It’s not often that middle school students have the chance to brief a group of politicians. But it happened in June when Rising scholars from Denny International and Meany middle schools met with Seattle and King County council members. Each school prepared a colorful and thoughtful PowerPoint presentation.
A total of 17 Meany scholars participated while the 19 scholars from Denny International were led by Principal Jeff Clark and Mawiayah Fields, Vice Principal. Representatives from Seattle CARES also attended.
Seattle City Councilmembers who attended the briefings or whose offices sent a representative were: Lorena Gonzalez, Andrew Lewis, Tammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda. King County Council member Girmay Zahilay, who represents District 2, was also in attendance.
In their presentations, the students focused on four key issues important to their future: public safety, homelessness, health communities and innovative schools. As one young scholar told the city and county council members: “Public safety is something we need to correct and something that needs to build trust among the community and the people that protect the people in it.”
At the end of both presentations, the scholars asked the representatives to provide better resources for homeless neighbors and direct more funding to community resources so police altercations could be avoided. They requested improved training for police and more programs to support youth rather than turning to incarceration. All the students wanted to see more innovative schools.
The Rising program, now in its fourth year, is sponsored by King County Best Starts for Kids. It prepares youth from high-poverty families to succeed in school and life. Educators and trained volunteers focus on cultivating cultural pride and high self-esteem, critical-thinking skills and a love of learning.
The program brings results. In a study carried out in 2020, 83 percent of Rising scholars saw increased racial identify and pride, and 92 percent reported increased self-confidence.