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New York’s Mineola Middle School Celebrates Student Voices

This guest blog post was written by Mineola Middle School students Luke Martinez, Emma Powers, Joseph Parrino, Catherine Dinh, & Jordan Chaver.

Mineola Middle School Students and StaffMineola Middle School was awarded the chance of a lifetime when we got to present at this year’s SETDA Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., where we were honored to receive the 2019 SETDA Student Voice Award. Having been nominated and the recipient of the Student Voices Award was a great honor and a unique experience. It made us feel very grateful that we can go to school at such an amazing place that offers so many different experiences for everyone in our community. This award showed us that we really are lucky to be going to such a great school that truly deserved this award.

We are very thankful for the teachers and administrators for choosing us to be the student ambassadors. Representing the Mineola Middle School was a huge deal. Without this experience we wouldn’t have made the connections that we have made with others and also amongst ourselves.

Leading up to the big presentation was stressful and fun. We had both good and bad run-throughs. After we all got used to working together, we were on a roll, and grew together as a team. With the help of all the teachers in the making of this presentation, it definitely pushed us and motivated us. It was also fun to see how much our school does and how it helps our community. Some of the things in our presentation taught us was not to take what we have for granted. It also taught us that our school is unique.

Going on stage, we were confident because we designed the presentation how we like to learn; interactive and engaging. Our audience was very interested in what we had to say and it made us feel like we truly had a voice. If you want to see us in action, you can access the video archive of our presentation online.

Mineola Students at Washington MemorialA big highlight of our trip was our sightseeing adventures in Washington D.C. after we presented at the Student Voices forum. Riding the train through national landmarks, posing in front of the White House in Lafayette Square, walking by the huge US Treasury Department building, and finally arriving at the Washington Monument, a majestic column lit up against the clear night sky were all memories we cherish. The World War II Memorial, the illuminated fountain, the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool made great group photo-ops. On our final day, we visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  We took turns experimenting with rotational momentum by spinning a wheel, saw Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit and walked through a Skylab Orbital Workshop. This was followed by a walk through the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, and by the FBI Headquarters. The lessons learned of the various monuments and the memories we created with our teachers and friends will remain with us forever. This experience was an interdisciplinary experience that changed our lives. We are all so lucky to have been a part of something like this and to have the opportunity to be a part of such a great school community. It was amazing and is something that none of us will ever forget.

SETDA Student Voices BadgeTo hear how the district and school implements powerful learning opportunities, visit this Webinar Archive, Empower Student Voices with Design Thinking with Mineola Superintendent of Schools, Michael P. Nagler, Ed.D., Principal and Mineola Middle School’s Andrew Cascale.

Nominations for the 2020 Student Voices Award will open in mid-February via SETDA’s Student Voices Award page. SETDA members and partners may nominate schools and districts. If you are interested in being nominated please contact your state’s SETDA team or an Affiliate connected to your state.

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Thank you to AT&T Aspire for underwriting the Student Voices 2018. AT&T invests in education and job training to create a skilled and diverse workforce that powers our country for the future. Technology is making it easier for everyone – regardless of age, gender, income or geography – to learn anytime, anywhere. Through the AT&T Aspire initiative, AT&T brings together the power of its network – its employees, its technology and organizations – to connect people to opportunities through education and job training. Since 2008, AT&T has committed $400 million to programs to help millions of students in all 50 states and around the world. Learn more at

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