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CMS students still have an opportunity to bring their concerns directly to the school board

The student advisor represents more than 140,000 thousand students at Board of Education meetings.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Applications for the student advisor to the CMS Board of Education are open until Tuesday. 

The student advisor represents more than 140,000 thousand students at  Board of Education meetings. The Student Advisor is not a voting member of the Board of Education but has a strong voice. 

"Our student advisors make us so much better at our job," Elyse Dashew, the CMS Board Chair said, "because they bring a perspective to things that we think we get. But until a student opens their mouth and tells us the real deal, we really don't get it." 

The student advisor actively participates in Board of Education meetings. 

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"If you check my old interviews, in like my first interview that I had, it was like me saying, the board is full of meanies. They don't want to help and listen to students and they suck," Juan Torres Munoz, the current student advisor said. 

He said being the student advisor changed his perspective drastically. 

"Now I actually know them. I've met them. And I know that they are persons like there are people who are actually very interested in student involvement," Torres Munoz said. 

The student advisor receives feedback from other students through a student advisory council and other methods.

"A lot of times when we talk about social-emotional learning, he'll come back and say, well, here's, here's how it looks like in homeroom right now," Dashew said. "Here's what my peers are saying. And here's some things you might want to adjust." 

Torres Munoz has been a vocal voice on mental health in schools. 

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"I know that mental health, sometimes we just don't have the time to focus on that. So as someone who's going through that, I think it's important that I'm able to like show other students that there are many mental health problems and that the school should provide for students like different resources to tackle them and to cope with them," Torres Munoz said. 

Torres Munoz was also vital in getting student voices heard about their dissatisfaction with a proposed plan for clear backpacks in CMS schools. 

"When I was campaigning for student advisor it was getting these backpacks out," Torres Munoz said. 

After a record year of violence and guns at CMS schools, the board directed the superintendent of schools to move forward with a plan to require all middle and high schoolers to wear clear backpacks. 

Students rejected the idea for a number of reasons including the quality of the bags and privacy concerns. 

"It was something that got me elected," Torres Munoz said. "And it was something that I wanted to make sure that the board knew, and in the end through that decision, students didn't have to wear backpacks for school."

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District leaders opted to put the approximately 46,000 backpacks up for auction after it was discovered they came with a Proposition 65 cancer warning from the state of California. They ultimately lost thousands of dollars.

"I wanted to give students that feeling of safety, that someone was going to be there to talk to the board and tell them what was going on in schools and how to feel safer," Torres Munoz said. 

Torres Munoz was able to help guide students through their feelings about body scanners in schools. 

"At the beginning [students]  felt uncomfortable with the body scanners," Torres Munoz said. "But as time passed, we saw that they don't have as many problems with them anymore. And they feel like it's a good chance that was taken by the board." 

The student advisor also serves as a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council officer. They help lead the council and strategy and have regular opportunities to connect with student leaders from across the district. CMYC is the student advisory council for CMS, city and county governments, and GenerationNation. 

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"The students who have been the student advisors so far do tend to be very busy with extracurriculars, and sports and student leadership at their own schools, and keeping up their grades," Dashew said. "And so they managed to get it all done." 

To qualify for the position students must attend CMS and be in 10th or 11th grade. They also must meet CMS' requirements for participation in extracurricular activities. 

Torres Munoz had doubts about his qualifications and what he would do as a student advisor. 

"I was like I don't know if I can do it," Torres Munoz said. "But then I turned to my people and they were like no you can do it." 

Applications are due by noon on September 20, 2022. 

Students with questions about the position can contact: 

  • Student Advisor and Board of Education - Charles Jeter charlesr.jeter@cms.k12.nc.us 
  • Student Advisory Council - Amy Farrell amy@generationnation.org and 704-343-6999

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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