At Hamilton Meadow Park a K-8 middle school students have time to eat and play outside on the blacktop. There is a quiet classroom option if you want to be inside. But students don’t always want to spend their recreational time outside.
“We realized at lunch that we didn’t have anything to do other than go outside and play. Not everyone likes to go outside because it gets boring, it gets hot. We thought it would be better to have a place where we can go inside, hang out, talk,” said Sanaa, an 8th grade member of Hamilton’s Student Advocacy Council.
They wanted an indoor option where they didn’t have to be quiet, but could talk and socialize. And that is how the idea of a student Lounge was created.
The Hamilton Student Advocacy Council consists of 25 5-8th graders. They meet twice a month with the goal of elevating student voice at Hamilton Meadow Park School in Novato. Last year, they began by brainstorming all the things students love about their school as well as the areas for growth and change.
They wanted to hear the voices of other students, too, so they developed a survey and distributed it to 119 6th and 7th graders throughout the school. The survey showed that 74% of those students would be interested in using the student lounge. “It’s important to have a place where you can be you and not have to have all of the responsibility, said Sanaa.
SAC students then prepared a Power Point Presentation where they pitched the idea to the principal. They asked him for a space for the lounge as well as money to pay a teacher to supervise the space. After listening to their presentation Principal Hospodar granted the students granted the students $2,500 and dedicated a classroom to the lounge.
The story reached the ears of Gonzalo Romo from Redwood Credit Union, who went to his team with the proposal, and came back with another $500 to help furnish the lounge.
The students now need to find furniture, decorate the space and work on creating a safe and fun culture in their student lounge. They want this space to be inviting, colorful, cozy and chill. A space where they can make new friends, listen to music and play board games.
Perhaps most importantly, the students learned how to advocate for themselves: “We learned how to talk to people and tell them what we wanted and how we wanted it done. We learned how to take control of what we wanted,” said Sanaa.