Students participate in Listening Learning Lawrence Lions to make their voices heard

By Donnavan Dillon, Staff Writer


The complexity of this school year has exacerbated many social and emotional issues for students.

From last spring’s nation-wide lockdown to summer and fall community outbreaks COVID-19 has greatly impacted the 2020-2021 school year. These changes prompted principal Dr. Cynthia “Mama J” Johnson to hold the second installment of the Listening Learning Lions Series on February 25th. 

Listening Learning Lawrence Lions was created last January, in response to weapons being brought to Lawrence High. Dr. Johsnon’s original idea around the event was to allow for students to share their voices, ideas, and solutions while adults simply listened. 

“Anyone can make a decision from behind a desk or screen,” said junior Kenna McNally. “ I think it’s important that we truly listen to what students and teachers are saying.” 

This event was the perfect opportunity to do just that for what seemed the first time this year.

The forum took place in the newly renovated Lawrence High cafeteria and was live-streamed by Room 125 productions for students, teachers, and community members to watch safely from home. 

Fifteen masked students, including moderators Jelani Ragins, Reece Wohlford, Abdullah Ahmed, and Kenna McNally, discussed fourteen questions divided into four main topics: student engagement, mental health, Work Wednesdays, and covid safety in returning to school. 

Questions ranged from “What would make you feel safer and more comfortable at school?” to “How is school work affecting your mental health?” and were based around student input on major areas of concern from the current year.

The 90-minute forum was filled with great discussion, brainstorming, and solutions from a variety of different perspectives. 

One of the highlights of the event was the raw, unfiltered conversations. Throughout the forum, students opened up and shared their experiences, both positive and negative throughout the year. 

Junior Vivian Podrebarac shared, “As someone who has curled up in a ball and cried this year, I’m having trouble opening up to teachers.“ 

Students even shared laughs as senior Piper Leitch shared her frustrations of sharing a space with younger siblings first semester. 

The intimate and heartfelt discourse was not only felt by those in the circle but also made their words so much more impactful to those listening. 

At the end of the night, Dr. Lewis and Johnson perfectly summed up the event with promising words of action and adoration. 

“I have three pages of notes” said Dr. Johnson, “I felt what you were saying, and we are going to go back and reevaluate.” 

Dr. Lewis echoed with similar sentiments proposing a future thought exchange to be held at Lawrence High to continue these important conversations. 

After the event, senior Reece Wohlford stated, “LHS students know what they need in order to feel safer and happier, it’s now up to administration to put that to use.” 

Another Listening Learning Lawrence Lions forum is scheduled to take place before the end of this school year, but students are hopeful change will come much sooner.