Student Symposium

Superintendent Alicea hosted the second annual SCSD Student Symposium, an opportunity for middle and high school students throughout the SCSD to provide feedback on their educational experience. A panel of students representing various schools and grade levels took part in a question and answer session, followed by small group discussions led by facilitators who represent the larger Syracuse community. We appreciate the insight provided by our students!

To view photos from the Student Symposium, please click here to visit our Flickr album!

Please see below for the most frequently expressed feedback provided by students at the Symposium.


Question 1: What do you feel is the biggest challenge teenager’s face in school today?
  • Teachers not providing instruction that serves them on regents’ exams. The majority of students were concerned about their grades and teachers’ loss of control. Several students suggested that learning is not important anymore, only getting good grades
  • Distractions from other students
  • Peer pressure, depression, grief and loss, cutting and suicide
  • Time management (managing work and school)
  • Bullying and social media also came up as a concern

Question 2: Is there an adult in your school you feel you can really rely on? How do they show that they care? (Names will not be listed; only the indications as presented by students.)
  • Encouragement and Motivation were the most popular indicators
  • Most students indicated that the teacher who stayed after, checked in (asked about student), is easy to talk to and listens to student concerns are the most appreciated teachers

Question 3: What is the one thing you wish adults in your school knew about teaching today’s young people?
  •  Overwhelmingly, the students reported the need for different teaching styles for different learning styles, noting the different rates of learning and differences in student strengths and weaknesses. Students also report that they sometimes feel ‘rushed’ through material.
  • Students reported that teachers can sometimes make them feel like they don’t matter.
  • Several students commented that they trust their teachers and think some of their teachers understand them.
  • Students believe that some teachers LOVE their job and do them well.
  • Students want teachers to know that they are living in different times and are exposed to numerous social concerns (Black Lives Matter, wars…)

Question 4: Do you think you or other students are treated differently because of the color of your/their skin or ethnicity in school, in the community or life in general? If so, how?
  • Several students believe that there is more variation in treatment based on grades than race in their school. Being on the honor roll/merit roll or enrolled in AP/IB or higher level classes yields different treatment.
  • Some students felt that there is racial bias in their school. Most students report feeling there is racial bias in the community (outside of school). However, several students report feeling no bias at all in their school community.
  • Students report that ENL students are treated differently and get more help (they qualified this by saying that perhaps that is because they need more help/attention).

Question 5: Think about a time you felt great at school.  What caused you to feel that way?
  • Making the honor roll, achieving high grades and passing regents exams were noted by almost every student.
  • Sports and other extra curriculars were also frequently noted by students.

Question 6: What can the District do to get your parents more involved with your school?
  • Many students were Hillside participants and believe the outreach done by Hillside helps to engage their family
  • Students noted that when parents don’t speak English, it is hard.
  • Requests for more than one open house.
  • Students suggested talking to parents directly and asking them
  • Using live stream and social media was often noted.
  • Meetings in the neighborhood and more engaging PTA meetings was suggested.
  • Transportation was cited often as an issue
  • One student noted “If it has to do with me, then they will come”
  • A variety of times for meetings was also suggested.
  • Robocalls and texts in the home language was stated as something that is lacking currently.

Question 7: What makes you WANT to show up at school and/or what stops you from coming to school?
  • Mother was repeatedly mentioned as what makes a student want to go to school. Teachers were cited as frequently.
  • Sports were frequently noted as a motivator
  • Wanting to do better, be better and graduate, or secure a good job were often cited.
  • Several students work and reported often being very tired.
  • Other students being obnoxious, loud or otherwise distracting was an issue for several students.
  • Issues with some teachers was noted as a distraction – specifically when students felt mistreated for no apparent reason.

Question 8: What are your thoughts about having a later school start time for example 9:00)?
  • Students overwhelmingly prefer to have an early start time or to keep it the same. Students noted factors such as needing to practice early mornings for college and/or work.

Question 9: If you could ask your teacher/administrator or superintendent ANY one question, what would you ask and why?
  • Do you care about your job?
  • Do you teach to teach or for money or because you care?
  • Can we have updated facilities?
  • When you have teachers that don’t care about their job, why are they still at the district?
  • Can JVC have more financial resources?
  • What will happen to students that are not in CTE programs?
  • Can we get rid of common core?
  • Do you know how hard it is on us?
  • Is there a way to start a students’ union?
  • Why are you trying to make us eat healthy at school?
  • Why are Regents so hard? Can you change this?
  • What are you trying to do to change views of people in the community on how they see SCSD students?
  • Why don't ITC/Fowler have athletic fields yet?