Student Board Rep Joins a Panel Discussion on Gun Violence

Posted on June 22, 2022
Categories: Blog, Insights with the Board

In an effort to connect with students on important issues, Student Board Representative Armando Ortez participated in a recent panel discussion on the impact of gun violence on students across the city.

More than 100 people attended this virtual meeting, including students, educators and former Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D. This panel was organized by the education publication Chalkbeat Philadelphia and Resolve Philly, a group devoted to improving how misrepresented communities are covered by the media.

Panelists discussed the scope of the city’s gun violence, which directly affects children and teenagers who comprise a growing number of the victims and perpetrators. This year, for instance, nearly 100 fatal and nonfatal shooting victims were between the ages of 13 and 19. As of mid-May, there were 157 fatal shooting victims in Philadelphia.

“Gun violence isn’t just a school issue; it’s a community issue,” Armando, a senior at Northeast High School, said during the discussion. “Students are petrified to go to school or come back to school” for fear of encountering gun violence.

In addition to discussing the impacts of gun violence on school communities, panelists discussed strategies for keeping students safe and addressing their mental health issues. Students were encouraged to seek professional counseling, join mentorship programs, and to talk with trusted adults. SDP Chief of Safety Kevin Bethel noted that we need a collective approach to finding solutions and that we must teach young people how to deal with conflict.

Some panelists also suggested that schools create safe spaces for students to discuss their fears and that society must normalize the conversation around mental health to empower students to open up and seek the help they may need.

“Armando and I both believe it is imperative for students to have safe spaces to collaborate on sensitive topics and to feel safe on school grounds at all times,” said Student Board Representative Rebecca Allen, a junior at Central High School.

Rebecca and Armando would also like to encourage rising juniors and seniors interested in being a Student Board Representative for the 2022-2023 school year to apply here for one of two seats by June 24, 2022.

“As student board representatives, we have been able to network and collaborate with other students and organizations passionate about uplifting student voices,” Rebecca said. “Taking on the role of a student board representative is a huge commitment, but if you are passionate about advocating for student voices, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.”