Students speak on shooting drills, mental health during council meeting

Students from schools in the southeast Massachusetts region met at North Attleborough High School on Dec. 12 to discuss matters such as safety, direct services and mental health. Staff Photo/Adam Bass
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A group of 50 students from schools throughout the southeastern Massachusetts traveled to North Attleborough High School for the last South East Student Advisory Council (SESAC) meeting of 2023.

SESAC is the southeastern chapter of the State Student Advisory Council, a group of students elected by students who create and submit education policy ideas and suggestions to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Student leaders from Sharon High in Norfolk County and New Bedford High School in Bristol County met in the library on Tuesday, Dec. 12. They broke into three working groups to create plans to address mental health, school safety and student services.

New Bedford High School junior Elliot Tally said students should have better services for all three areas, arguing it is imperative for their success both in and out of school. The students gave presentations on each topic throughout the meeting and discussed how they could receive feedback from their peers to improve those services.

“A lot of us take AP classes for example, and we need time to sit back and relax,” Tally said. “At my school for example, they have counselors to help us throughout the day.”

North Attleborough senior Andrew Porter said addressing mental health was a priority for his working group, adding that students face problems related to mental health daily. In a presentation to the group, Porter presented a pamphlet for students and teachers to use to identify different types of mental health and the kinds of resources available for students.

“It’s the thoughts that are going through our head,” Porter said. “There’s so many factors that are going on both in and outside of the classroom and at school.”

Another issue addressed at the meeting was the idea of lockdown drills. Lockdown drills are safety exercises for students and faculty in the event of a school shooting—an occurrence that has become more common in recent years.

North Attleborough senior Meghan Lee said students were concerned about their schools’ lack of lockdown drills. Despite North Attleborough and Massachusetts not having a school shooting in 2023, Lee said the rise in shootings throughout the country raised legitimate concerns about school safety.

“They are very important,” Lee said. “These are communicated by the administration to students about their importance, but they aren’t practiced.”

While most of the conversations in the library highlighted issues students face in school, other topics were brought up regarding student lives beyond high school.

According to Lee, some students have suggested courses and resources for financial literacy. Lee said students are looking for ways to learn how to budget or manage money when they finish high school as they move forward.

“Some students feel that their parents are not the best teachers when it comes to financial literacy,” Lee said. “There is a big demand for financial education in our schools.”