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About the Think Tank

In spring 2021, PUSD's Student Think Tank was formed in response to the need for student engagement and connection across the district at a time when students faced isolation during the pandemic lockdown. The group started meeting online in January 2021 and was able to identify three student concerns: equity, mental health, curriculum. We formed committees that would research and offer potential solutions to PUSD leadership. Aside from our larger meetings, each committee met on our own to design surveys, create a literary magazine, and interview PUSD employees, mental health providers, and district administrators. The spring semester culminated with the STT offering virtual presentations to PUSD administrators.

In its second year, STT almost doubled in size, and we faced more pressure because in-person classes had started. In response, we held weekly virtual meetings at night, and we deepened the work that had been started by students during STT’s first year. We also continued collecting stories for The Learning Curve’s Volume 2. A culmination of our two years of work was our presentation at PUSD’s Board of Education’s April 2022 meeting. At the session, we asked for student representation at the district’s board level.

During our third year, we focused on advocacy so we could find a path for student representation at the district leadership level. We also formed a committee to create the third volume of The Learning Curve (TLC), which we saw as an outlet for students to tackle mental health issues. Year Three also introduced a new five-week summer 2023 internship when students met for four hours a day to interview district leadership, create a plan of action for sustainability, and work on The Learning Curve’s third volume; many students also wrote individual essays to publish in local papers. The team’s primary goal was to create a structure for student representation on the district board. On August 3, 2023, four Student Think Tank members presented a structure for student representation to PUSD's Board of Education members. The plan was approved and four days later, the Student Think Tank received PUSD's Community Service Award.

Fall 2023 is the start of our fourth year. All Cohort One members have graduated, and the core group of juniors and seniors are supported by the district's board and leadership to prioritize their proposal to invite fellow students to run for elections and participate in district board meetings. The work that the Student Think Tank began three years ago is coming to fruition. The team is also planning Cohort Four applications.

The Student Think Tank began with funding from a grant awarded to PUSD in 2019 by the Stuart Foundation. Although not part of the original proposal, the Stuart Foundation supported this new initiative to help address the challenges students were facing because of the pandemic.

what we learned

Our recommendations

The Think Tank is open to all PUSD high school students. Juniors and seniors can receive paid internship credit if they complete 60+ hours during the course of an academic year.
The Think Tank will soon be announcing new applications for Cohort 4. Please stay connected via our website to learn about our activities and opportunities for student involvement. 
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