A new group of 13 students from seven network schools, some of whom are returning for the second year, have been appointed to the Student Advisory Council, a group that meets to discuss how to best meet students’ changing needs, through the support of NYC Outward Bound Schools.
At their kick-off meeting earlier this month, the students worked with Aurora Kushner, Director of Impact and Continuous Improvement, to provide feedback around student belonging, agency and engagement that will help influence NYC Outward Bound’s strategic planning process.
“With the sense of community and belonging, school feels like a second home,” said one Advisory Council student in a feedback survey. “It’s important to create an environment for students where they feel comfortable, safe and not judged. It’s also important to create strong connections between students and Crew teachers, so that students are comfortable to reach out to them for support.”
“When what I say is listened to, I feel like my school values me as a student and individual,” added another student. “It’s important to create an environment where students feel like they are valued.”
Meet this year’s Student Advisory Council:
10th grader, Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights
My name is Moromolaoluwa Ologunleko. I am from Nigeria, and I’m a 10th grader at the Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights. I live with my parents and brothers. I love to volunteer, paint, read and write. I’m an aspiring lawyer and entrepreneur who one day hopes to be a positive influence on my generation. I love to try and learn new skills such as swimming, golfing, editing, etc. I still have a long way to go to discover who I am as a person, but this is me!
What I like most about my school is the team building and togetherness we formed from House Wars, which are friendly competitions between the students and sometimes teachers. This helps strengthen our school as a community and brings us together as one. I also love all the student clubs, which give us room to express ourselves and help us build better leadership and communication skills.
A memorable Crew activity for me was during the second week of school when we were put into groups to get to know each other better. We played a game where we had to answer a question based on the color M&M we picked out of a bag. I found it to be very fun and interactive — plus it was free chocolate! Our Crew members learned more about each other that day, which led to more conversation.
I’m excited to be part of the NYC Outward Bound Schools Student Advisory Council because it’s a way for me to meet new people, build stronger interpersonal and leadership skills, and represent my school community.
12th grader, West End Secondary School
My name is Yelnur and I’m a senior at West End Secondary School (WESS). I am passionate about our community and working with my fellow peers. My goal is to amplify teens’ voices so that we are heard, and positive changes are made. I also love writing for my school newspaper — whether about global issues or issues relevant to our community. I believe that together, we can make great things happen.
I like that WESS is small, which is why everyone knows each other. It gives us a strong sense of community. A lot of people know each other’s names and it’s great to see familiar faces on the way to class.
I am excited to be part of the Student Advisory Council because I will be able to amplify the voices of teens at my school and work with teens from other schools to make all of our experiences even better.
7th grader, MAELS
My name is Nora Kovacevic and I’m in 7th grade. I live in Staten Island with my parents, brother and my cat, Beauty. I’m passionate about basketball, although I love sports in general. I love spending time with my family and love helping stray animals. I think helping animals really inspired me to want to take a leadership role in the Student Advisory Council and help other people.
At my school, there are a lot of amazing things that I adore, but one that sticks out to me is the friendly atmosphere and strong community. This makes it easy to make friends and to feel welcomed and safe.
One memorable Crew activity was Crew Wars on the last day of school. My Crew was in a friendly competition with another Crew in a game called “Steal the Flag”. This game allowed us to work together and assign roles. We divided into three groups — one group to guard our flag, a second group to distract the other team, and the last to try to snatch the flag. With this we learned how to use teamwork and won the game! This was a memorable moment that I will truly never forget.
I’m excited to be part of the NYC Outward Bound Student Advisory Council and get the chance to voice my opinions to benefit our school system.
12th grader, Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights
Hey! My name is Rahzal and I’m a 12th grader at the Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights (IHPCH). Although I wasn’t born in New York, I still consider it my home and the place I have lived all my life. Being a part of a community is always something that has resonated with me — whether it be New York City, a school community, or just my neighborhood, I have always felt a connection to other people surrounding me. It has left me with the lingering desire to make things better even if they’re already considered “good”. I want to share my voice with like-minded people. Together, we can create the change we’re looking for.
What I like the most about my school is that it’s a community. My school strives to engage with us through activities, advisories and community meetings. IHPCH is a learning environment but always attempts to be more than that. Clubs, teachers and school spirit manifests into something enjoyable for all students.
A memorable Crew activity at IHPCH was our virtual “Escape the Room.” Not only did it encourage us to talk and have fun, but it gave the class a goal that is only achievable through teamwork and communication.
Similarly, I am excited to be involved with the Student Advisory Council to improve my leadership and communication skills.
10th grader, WHEELS
My name is Lisy and I am a 10th grader at WHEELS. I emigrated from the Dominican Republic at the age of 6 and now live in Washington Heights. I am passionate about helping others, even though I can be a bit shy and sometimes discouraged at times. This year I am setting myself the goal of finding comfort in the discomfort in order to push myself out of my comfort zone. I love doing random acts of kindness such as buying others food, taking care of my family and friends’ children, or just helping someone in need. One day, I would love to work in the justice system to help those who don’t have a voice, and to better understand and prevent crimes from occurring so that we can live in a better, peaceful, loving world. I know these are big dreams, but I would love to make a difference.
I highly appreciate and enjoy my school’s support systems. WHEELS is very accommodating to students in order to help them succeed. I especially love our Peer Group Connections (PCG) meetings, during which we talk about acceptance, and share our opinions on issues relating to gender equality and equity.
I am excited to share my voice and help share other’s opinions in order to make a change in our community as our voices and opinions get validated and heard!
11th grader, Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights
My name is Ifeanyi Obodo and I’m an 11th grader at the Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights. I live in Queens with my parents. I’ve been passionate about neurosurgery ever since I read a book about the life of Ben Carson. My dream job is to be a neurosurgeon and work at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
What I like about my school is that the staff do everything they can for the students. I am excited for this opportunity because it’s my first time interacting with NYC Outward Bound Schools and other students in the community. It feels good to help our schools grow.
Erta St Juste
12th grader, Kurt Hahn
My name is Erta St Juste and I am a senior at Kurt Hahn this year. I live in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, with my mother and uncle. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, drawing and knitting. In the future, I would love to run my own fashion-related business and design clothing that will revolutionize the fashion industry. I’m also passionate about reducing the impacts of climate change.
What I like best about my school is that students have hands-on learning experiences. For example, one time my Crew played Wordle together. It’s strange to think back on how, by simply playing a game, we came together as a group and as a family that day. At the beginning of the year, we would only talk to our friends in Crew. It took some time for us to learn to communicate with each other, but by the end of that period, we were all conversing, even though our personalities are so different.
I’m looking forward to communicating with and learning from the other Student Advisory Council members from other schools. I am also excited to help improve the lives of students at my school and other schools.
12th grader, Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights
My name is Lookman and I am a 12th grader at the Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights. I’ve been a resident of Queens for the past seven years, where my interests and passions were nurtured from an early age. Some of these interests include law — specifically constitutional law — and advocating for people in need. I believe legislation is vital because it safeguards our human rights and general well-being.
Out of everything at my school, what I like most is the tight-knit community. Everybody there helps you grow — not only as a student, but as a person. You can always rely on your teachers, counselors and peers to be there when you need them. Additionally, my school enables the student body to have a voice in their education by hosting community meetings and student committees.
One happy memory I have of my Crew is when we were still in remote learning during COVID. We had to come together in order to find a solution to a Zoom “Escape the Room” challenge. It was nice to do something different from our monotonous day-to-day schedule.
I am excited to be part of the NYC Outward Bound Student Advisory Council to amplify student voice. Too many times, students feel as if they are not being heard, so I will do my best to make sure they are.
7th grader, Launch
My name is Alayjiah and I’m a 7th grader at Launch Charter School. I live with my parents and sister in East New York, Brooklyn. I like to sing, act, and do art occasionally. I also like doing archery. My dream job is to be a singer, an actor, or both.
What I like most about my school is that the staff are all really nice. Joining a Crew was fun, especially on the first day of school, because I didn’t know anyone yet and got to meet new people.
I am excited to be part of the NYC Outward Bound Student Advisory Council because it’s a good opportunity to take part in decision-making for my school and other schools as well.
12th grader, Brooklyn Collaborative Studies
My name is Anelís, and I am in my last year of high school at BCS. I moved to the United States a year ago from Panama, and it has been a roller coaster since then! Adapting was complicated at first but eventually I got used to being here in Brooklyn. I like to describe myself as someone with many talents — from working out five days a week and having great social skills, to being in my room drawing, reading and playing instruments. Having all of these passions has made it complicated for me to figure out exactly who I am and who I want to be, but I believe that when the time comes, I will figure it out.
Since I transferred to BCS, I like how understanding and supportive everyone has been. In Crew, we circle up and can talk about anything because it feels like a family and a safe space.
I am excited to be a part of the Student Advisory Council because I’ve always thought it is very important to have strong relationships between students and teachers, and among students. This role is an honor because I get to help others and build a stronger relationship with my peers!
12th grader, Kurt Hahn
My name is Ramat Olasunkanmi, and I am a 12th grader at Kurt Hahn. I am of Nigerian descent, and I love cycling around my neighborhood. I aspire to become a psychologist in the future because the field really interests me. My favorite hobbies are reading and drawing.
What I like the most about my school is the amount of resources we have available to us. Our school is very passionate about student mental health, and there are so many adults in the building ready to help.
My favorite Crew days are when we play Wordle in the morning before we start our circle. It’s so engaging and fun — and a bit chaotic — but in a healthy and safe way.
I am excited to be a part of the NYC Outward Bound School Student Advisory Council because it gives me an opportunity to rub minds with students my age from other schools. It will give me a chance to create memories, and learn and create with others.
11th grader, Kurt Hahn
My name is Tianna Rodriguez. I am 16 years old and an 11th grader this year. My favorite hobbies are swimming, volleyball, basketball, football, singing and dancing. To be honest, I like all sports because I enjoy learning new things. I also love working with children, and my favorite subjects are math and science.
One of my favorite Crew memories was during a school-wide rally. All of the grades got to compete against each other in a series of fun events.
I’m excited to be a part of the NYC Outward Bound Schools Student Advisory Council because I get to help improve the network.