A student body can greatly improve its school and community when it unites for positive change, but the trouble is finding a way to make sure every student’s voice is heard. That is where the Raising Student Voice & Participation (RSVP) program comes in.
This summit-based framework uses the leadership of your student council to bring together all students in the school for a schoolwide conversation about issues and concerns they have, generating realistic ideas and accepting responsibility to make positive change. Founded on the desire to recognize the student council as the primary vehicle for student voice and meaningful engagement, RSVP provides the necessary support to give each student a chance to speak his or her mind.
Although NatStuCo member schools have had access to RSVP in previous years, the high school program has been re-released this fall and streamlined with updated and more user-friendly content.
Why Bring RSVP to Your School?
According to the Quaglia Institute’s 2016 voice research report, “Students who believe they have a voice in school are seven times more likely to be academically motivated than students who do not believe they have a voice.” Middle level and high schools have the unique chance to engage a large number of young people at a time when they are learning about civic engagement and public life. RSVP gives students dedicated time to discuss current problems, events, and solutions that are directly affecting their everyday lives, while also enabling them to practice the life skills needed to be an active citizen. More important, students are collaborating directly with each other, offering a peer-to-peer experience that creates new relationships and stronger connections within the school community.
How Does RSVP Fit Into Your School Day?
RSVP was designed as a flexible program that can fit into any school during a regular or modified schedule (e.g., pep/assembly). From start to finish, the three summits can be completed in as few as six weeks, and they only require two and a half hours of total school time. Summit 1 takes a minimum of 45 minutes; Summits 2 and 3 can be accomplished in 30 minutes each.
What Is Your Role?
School faculty, staff, and council advisers must support student leaders and value student voice in the classroom and on campus, because student voice must be recurring and can grow from the RSVP process. Although RSVP is a student-led process, council members benefit from their adviser’s guidance as they become familiar with RSVP and work to manage the process and resulting action plans.
As the RSVP Leadership Team trains students to facilitate the summits and develops a civic action plan based on summit outcomes, you’ll be there to guide—but not direct—each step of the process, allowing students to develop both the confidence and skills they need for effective decision-making and project planning.
RSVP gives students a powerful voice, promotes civic action, and supports student leadership. So, what are you waiting for? Visit www.NatStuCo.org/RSVP and start raising student voice and participation in your school this year.