We met with Swetha Tunuguntla from Waukee Senior High School in Waukee, IA last spring and asked her about her experience in school. Here’s what she had to say:
Do you feel like your voice matters at this school?
Tunuguntla: “That’s an interesting question because there are 2,100 something students at this school and a lot of students I do feel are underrepresented and that’s why they get anxiety and that’s why they feel shy, and that’s not a bad thing, obviously, to feel that way, that might be your personality. But when you’re thinking from an aspect of ‘Do I get to play a part, an important part, in the way that the school runs?’ sometimes I really don’t feel like I get to play a part just because I don’t get to make any decisions that I would like to make and some thoughts that I have about maybe having extra AP classes, or having another music program. I have never gotten any questions about that at all.”
What are some misconceptions adults have about students?
Tunuguntla: “I think many adults have a misconception that kids don’t spend their time wisely and they’re not good at time management. Personally, as a person that does take AP classes and pretty challenging courses in high school, I need to have good management and I can’t spend time on my phone all day, you know what I mean? So it’s like, I have to be able to develop the skills that help me finish all of my work in time but also have a successful grade in my class and I think that the misconception comes from the fact that, yes, sometimes most people see us on our phones all the time and the whole social media aspect of it is really big but personally I do believe that that misconception is very false.”
Have you ever gone to a principal to address an issue or do you think there is something they could do better in reaching out to students?
Tunuguntla: “Reaching out to students, I think there are a lot of unaddressed problems that we try to sweep under the rug and a good way that I have been trying to deal with this is MVP (Mentors in Violence Prevention). So, I do talk about uncomfortable subjects such as drugs, alcohol, sexual violence, abuse and things like that. I feel like those are important ways that the school is already trying to [reach out], but it would also be nice for the school to also give support, as in, teach the teachers the lesson plans so sometimes that they can be brought up in advisory and taken more seriously than just taken once a month.”