By Nataly De Luna
Community is a group of people who come together with different views and backgrounds. In my opinion, a community should be a place where individuals can feel like they are in a safe space surrounded by people who care about them and support each other. A school community should be all that, along with resources that can help all students grow together.
I attend Summit Public School: Tahoma, which is a public charter high school. I have a cousin who attends Andrew P. Hill High School, which is a public district high school and I have another cousin who attends the University of California, Santa Cruz, which is a public university.
Based on our experiences, our current school communities aim to rise to our expectations, yet sometimes fall short.
Elena Lizbeth Aleman De Luna attends the University Of California, Santa Cruz. She began attending UCSC in the fall of 2016 and is majoring in literature with a minor in education. The 18 year old has gone through her first semester of college and believes the community there is very different from the communities she has come across in the past.
What does community mean to you?
“In my opinion, a community is a place where individuals can seek help from peers, along with other resources in the community,” Elena De Luna said.
Whether the resources individuals look for involve comfort or just a place to be a part of, much of this support can come from peers, staff or others in the community. Elena De Luna said she feels her campus does not necessary show a good sense of community.
“They do try to, but I feel that some peers, along with admissions at the school, make this school lack a good community,” Elena De Luna said. With this information, it is implied that UCSC makes an effort to have a good sense of community, but they have not been able to fully achieve this.
What is the community like at your school?
Elena De Luna said, “My school does provide a lot of resources for students such as writing centers, tutoring centers, counseling, etc.”
These are just a few of the many different resources they have at UCSC. They also have the school split into colleges that have dorms and apartments for students to live in. This allows students to meet new people with backgrounds they have never met before. Many clubs are also a part of the community to encourage students to join them and be a part of the big community.
Elena De Luna said she likes the resources her school provides to the students.“This is important because we can find help within our community instead of having to go somewhere else for help,” she said, adding that any extra help students many need is easily accessible on their very own campus, allowing them to avoid enrolling into outside programs.
Is there anything your school lacks?
“My school lacks diversity,” Elena De Luna said, explaining that the group of peers that she goes to school with is completely different from the environment she grew up in.
A a child she grew up surrounded by people of color, whether this was in her neighborhood or at her school. There was always a diverse setting around her. The population at UCSC still has a mix of people from different backgrounds, but the population of individuals who identify as white is much larger.
Elena De Luna said, “It’s a little unnerving being around so many white people. A lot of the professors are white too.” In her opinion, she thinks the school should have more of a variety when it comes to students attending and the professors that teach there. However, Elena De Luna said she isn’t trying to imply that the students attending now do not deserve to be there, she just wishes there was a larger variety of people.
Dayanara Mendiola is a 16-year-old junior at Andrew P. Hill High School. Mendiola has been attending this school since her freshman year, the fall of 2014, and she has a different view on the community at her school when compared to Elena De Luna.
What does community mean to you?
“Community to me means having a strong friendship with others in the community and feeling comfortable too,” Mendiola said, adding that community is a place where peers can be themselves while being a part of the larger group around them.
Mendiola said her school has a good sense of community. “My school has programs such as Puente that help build strong friendships and confidence,” she said, explaining that Puente is a program at Andrew P. Hill High School that is designed to help students graduate high school, be eligible for college and enroll in college. Students in this program are provided support from a Puente-trained team.
Mendiola said their main goal for students within the program is to create a close bond as they all work toward high school graduation and college. Puente counselors keep an eye on students and their school progress to make sure they stay on the right path and motivate them throughout the years. Students enroll in this program from their freshman year all the way to senior year.
What is the community like at your school?
“The community at my school is filled with such diverse groups,” Mendiola said.
Mendiola said that in her community there are “different groups of people that are able to relate to one another no matter their background.” This shows that due to the variety of groups that attend her school, all students will be able to relate to at least one other student. However, with a highly diverse school like hers, Mendiola still feels that they lack school spirit from the student body.
I decided to ask myself these questions to see how my community is different from the previous two. My name is Nataly De Luna, and I am a senior at Summit Public School: Tahoma. I am 17 years old and have been attending Summit Tahoma since my freshman year in the fall of 2013. My views on the community at my school fall in the middle of both communities presented earlier.
Community to me is a place where individuals come together from different backgrounds. This place allows people to feel comfortable being themselves with those around them. In my opinion, my school does show a good sense of community. Over the years I have noticed that students have become much closer. My class during freshman year was very divided into many small groups; but, as the years have passed, we have become much more sociable with each other. There are still friend groups, but now everyone knows everyone.
The community at Summit Tahoma is very accepting to students that attend. Staff and students are very understanding and caring. My school has become a safe place for many students because they feel as if they can truly be themselves here. They understand how accepting it is here. This all falls into the category of what I like about my school because it shows how much of a community we are as a whole.
However, in my opinion, the one thing I feel my school lacks is a normal high school experience. Due to our school being a public charter school, the amount of students that attend is much smaller than the amount at a regular public high school. Due to this smaller enrollment, we lose the opportunity of having more sports, strong school spirit and a campus of our own.
All in all, our communities do what they can to make sure that students feel comfortable and provide resources to help those students. There are still times where schools fall short in certain areas, but this does not greatly impact the community we are involved in.