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Year Three: 2022-2023

Summer 2023 

During June and July, 2023, the Student Think Tank offered its first summer internship in which more than 12 students participated. 

Some highlights: 

  • The team created a plan to implement a student board structure in PUSD’s Board of Education. The proposed student board would consist of representatives from each PUSD high school who would be voted into a Student Assembly and Council. The responsibilities of these elected students would include acting as rotating Council Members, who would attend Board meetings to cast preferential votes on behalf of the elected Student Assembly. As per our proposal, the Think Tank would remain a separate entity from the Board. We would continue to address urgent issues in the district, work with the Student Assembly for educational and training-based purposes, and continue to meet with PUSD’s leadership team and Board members.

  • During the summer session, the Student Think Tank interviewed more than 14 members of PUSD's leadership, including school principals, PUSD board members, other district leaders who impact student wellness, DEI issues, curriculum, board policy, data analysis, marketing, District LCAP, and much more.

  • Our whole team worked together to edit Volume Three of The Learning Curve (TLC), which is part of our continued mission to publish a collection of PUSD student stories in an anthology; the volume will be online soon! The stories are those of students from five PUSD high schools, with contributions by Blair and Sierra Madre middle school students. We have worked together to edit these stories and are in the process of creating a printed publication - the copy will be available soon!

  • Student Think Tank members are in the process of creating and recording personal essays to submit to the PEF blog as well as local publications in an effort to broaden student representation by sharing our own experiences. The topics of these essays cover culture, identity, experiences within PUSD, challenges of the LGBTQ+ community, and more. 

  • Our team has been compiling a strategic plan for the Think Tank’s course of action in the upcoming school year. The action plan is derived from a brainstorming meeting held earlier in the year, and will carry the Student Think Tank through our many objectives while maintaining central values of student voice, community building, and equity within the district. To accompany the action plan, we created a comprehensive report of the Think Tank’s work so far in its three years. 

Think Tank Summer 2023


Some members of the Student Think Tank summer internship during our circle time in a Rose City classroom with Think Tank facilitator Sehba Sarwar
Photos from L-R: , Parami De Silva (PHS '23), Brianna Flores (Muir '23), Isaak Uriu (Muir '24), Addie Dale (PHS '23), Julian Macdonald (Muir '24), Olivia Barrios (Marshall '24). Photo by Adara Dowell (PHS '23)

Spring 2023 - Student Think Tank projects

This spring, we broke out into two committees, The Learning Curve (TLC) and Advocacy, and continued our 8 pm nightly meetings. Some of our meetings included the entire Student Think Tank, while others were by committee. Ms. Sehba also visited team members at their campuses during lunchtime. 

Some highlights:

  • The TLC committee expanded the publication to include middle schoolers; details can be found here. In April, TLC team members Morgan Gaskell, Mya Hernandez, Jesus Gonzalez (PHS), and Finney Bernstein (Marshall), presented their work to PUSD's Executive Leadership Team 
  • The Advocacy team charted new ground by conducting research around a question in order to create structures for students to participate in district decision-making teams: How can we develop a system that allows student voices, especially those traditionally underrepresented, to be included in unique school-level and broader district-level decision-making?  Findings from the research will be shared soon!
  • On April 24, we held in-person meeting at Rose City High School, and students from across the district gathered to brainstorm our mission, vision, and plan for creating a sustainable structure that can serve as a channel for student voices and representation at district decision-making groups.  

Summer 2023 Internship Photos 
at Rose City High School


Think Tank team members with  PUSD's Interim Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Blanco


Adara Dowell ('23) and Maude Windsor ('24) with Assistant Superintendent Dr. Julie Reyonoso and members of her team at mental health panel organized by PEF


Team members interview Dr. Allison Steppes, PUSD's Institutional Equity & Title IX Coordinator 


Team members at work on student representation 


Team members interview Dr. Shannon Malone, PUSD's Senior Director of Principals 


Team members take a moment to relax and have fun! 

Student Think Tank team members at PEF's EdTalk, Fall 2022



From L-R: Maude Windsor (Marshall '24), Mya Hernandez (PHS ‘23), Stephanie Barcenas (Marshall '23), Gabrielle Trujillo (PHS '24), Morgan Gaskell (‘24) alongside a Muir student in the back row



Think Tank Facilitator Sehba Sarwar with PEF Board Member Ann Snow

January 2023 - Orientation for new members

The orientation session was held at Rose City High School. Some of the highlights included a virtual panel featuring Student Think Tank graduates; Ella Uriu (a Posse scholar at Bucknell), Naomi Moore (Cal State-LA), Celeste Edell and Miguel Roybal Monzo (UC-Berkeley) shared how their experience in the Student Think Tank helped them adjust to their first year in college. Ms. Helen Chan Hill, PUSD's Assistant Superintendent in Educational Services, stopped by to welcome the new cohort, and our facilitator Ms. Sehba Sarwar as well as our advisor, Mr. Jose Ortega was also present. Toward the end of the morning, some high school principals also dropped in to greet the Student Think Tank. 

The new Cohort 3 members welcomed into the group are: Olivia Barrios (Marshall ’24), Adara Dowell (PHS ’23), Brianna Flores (Muir, ’23), Julian Macdonald (Muir ’24), Keilah Yu (Marshall ’25), Leo Lou  (Marshall ’24), Eloheem Mahone (Muir '24),  Mallika Sheshadri (PHS ’25), Aster Silverio (Rose City ’23), Isaak Uriu (Muir ’24). All had been interviewed by the STT members in fall 2022. 

The morning was organized by STT members from Cohort One and Two including Natalia Abadjian (PHS '24), Liberty Alderton (Muir '23), Asha Bailey (Muir '24), Stephanie Barcenas (Marshall ’23), Finney Bernstien (Marshall '23), Sophia Chou (Marshall '25), Addie Dale (PHS '23), Parami De Silva (PHS '23), Morgan Gaskell (PHS '24), Lauren Gray (Muir '24), Mya Hernandez (PHS '23), Paulina McConnell (PHS ’25), Arlington Pacheco (Blair, ’24), Gabrielle Trujillo (PHS '24), and Maude Windsor (Marshall ’24).

2022-23 Cohort Three Selection Process

The Think Tank continued to expand our base for the 2022-23 academic year, and 11 new members from Marshall, Muir, Pasadena High School, and Rose City were accepted into the Think Tank’s Cohort Three.  

Virtual interviews were conducted by a student interview committee comprised of Sophia Chou (‘25), Adelynn Dale (‘23), Morgan Gaskell (‘24), Jesus Gonzalez (‘23), Mya Hernandez (‘23), Paulina McConnell (‘24), and Gabrielle Trujillo (‘24). This year, the interview committee operated on their own without an adult advisory team although we kept our facilitator, Sehba Sarwar, informed about the interview and selection process. 

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Summer and Fall 2022

The Think Tank team has been active throughout summer and fall 2022. Some of the activities included:

  • Summer and fall 2022: We revised two volumes of The Learning Curve; read more here
  • June and August, 2022: We led teacher professional development sessions; read more here
  • November 2022: We served as journalists and a panelist at Pasadena Education Foundation's EdTalk at Caltech; read more here
  • April and November 2022: We offered presentations at PUSD Board Meetings; read more here 

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