Holyoke’s William J. Dean Technical High School (DTHS), a GRAD Academy, is redesigning the way that students learn about government, voice their concerns, and take action for continuous school improvement.
Last December, student elections were held for the first time since the student government was previously disbanded. During the first week of January, a ceremony was held during which Principal Barry Bacom swore in elected officers. DTHS now has three branches of student government. The first branch, the executive branch, is being led by President Joseph Tosado (11th grader) and Vice-president Edeni Colon (10th grader). The second branch, the bi-cameral legislature, is composed of two senators for every grade level and two representatives for each one of the 12 Career and Technical Education Labs.
President Tosado is getting ready to expand his administration by appointing a few other officers to the positions of secretary, treasurer, and attorney general. The president will also be appointing nine officers to the judiciary council, which will compose the third branch of the student government.
The student legislature has also split into four joint congressional committees (Student Activities, School Rules, Academics, and Fundraising) to focus on specific issues of concern. Each committee has selected a chair and secretary. Next, they will be voting on student-raised issues and presenting them to Principal Bacom.
Student Government Officers are also SkillsUSA officers who will be attending conferences this year and getting their Career and Technical Education teams ready for competition next year. This is Dean Tech’s first year as a participant in SkillsUSA, a nationally acclaimed career technical education program that currently serves more than 320,000 students across the country. SkillsUSA works with students, teachers, and industries to offer valuable work, internship, and competition experiences to ensure that our country has a prepared and skilled workforce.
Finally, officers will also have the opportunity to meet with Holyoke Superintendent, Dr. Sergio Paez, and Holyoke Mayor, Alex Morse, to voice their concerns and participate in events to expand their leadership skills and understanding of government, politics, and educational policy.
Assistant Principal Gladys Franco is one of a team of advisors for the new Student Government. “I’m proud of the students that have taken the initiative to get involved and represent the needs of the student body,” Ms. Franco shares. “I’m excited that the students now have a protocol for discussing their ideas, voicing their concerns to the faculty and administration, and enacting positive school-wide changes. I look forward to providing students with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and seeing how they’ll make connections and effect change in the greater community.”
The student officers and team of advisers (Mr. Cavanaugh, Ms. Reilly, Mr. Fullwood and Ms. Franco) are excited about this opportunity and the many possibilities ahead.