Navigate Left
  • Superintendent Wayne N. Walters speaks to City Council 
for the annual Take A Father To School Day proclamation.

    Local News

    “We’re About Half Full” Pittsburgh School Leaders Present Draft Facilities Utilization Plan

  • Allderdice hoist the Pittsburgh City Championship trophy for the 2023/24 boys basketball season. (Pittsburgh Union Progress)


    Ranking the Last 10 Years of Allderdice Boys Basketball

  • Backword 2024

    Flippin’ Dice

  • Teachers Vote In 2024 Presidential Election

    Backword 2024

    Teachers Vote In 2024 Presidential Election

  • Backword 2024

    Allderdice Teachers Bring Back Meadows

  • District Rebudgets Yondr Pouch Money

    Backword 2024

    District Rebudgets Yondr Pouch Money

  • Ship Page For Teachers

    Backword 2024

    Ship Page For Teachers

  • The Real Senior Superlatives

    Backword 2024

    The Real Senior Superlatives

  • Backword 2024

    Little Misses of Allderdice

  • Huge Influx of Hospitalizations after Mass Food Poisoning Caused by Dice Cafeteria Meal

    Backword 2024

    Huge Influx of Hospitalizations after Mass Food Poisoning Caused by Dice Cafeteria Meal

Navigate Right
The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Allderdice Updates
The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Attending a Student Voice Meeting

Attending a Student Voice Meeting

On Tuesday morning I was honored with the opportunity to attend a Student Voice meeting with two district representatives to discuss Student Life and Experiences here at Allderdice. During the meeting, a group of eleven students and I were able to discuss some of the problems we agreed that Allderdice is facing today. 

The two district employees who were able to attend were Mrs. Lenell Reid, the Project Manager of Student Voice within PPS, and Mr. Jason Rivers, a former Allderdice faculty member who is now employed at the district level as “Director of Narrative Transformation, Conflict Resolution, and Violence Prevention.” Mr. Rivers himself describes his position as, “an overseer of work to improve safety and wellness within PPS learning environments.” The superintendent Dr. Wayne Walters was also supposed to attend but was not able to make it much to the dismay of myself and the other students there.

The Foreword deemed it necessary to spread the contents of the meeting to the entire student body so as to inform everyone of what should be a public conversation. Here is some of what was discussed throughout the meeting:


Segregation in PSP and CAS Classes

One of the first topics brought up by the students was the issue of a racial divide between PSP and CAS classes.

“My main concern is being in CAS and AP classes, where there’s not another person of color to where you can feel like yourself with,” one senior explains. “I know students [of color] may not want to take those higher classes because their friends aren’t in it and they feel incapable of doing the work, but if their grades are good and they’re a good student then as a counselor you should put them even if they don’t want to be at first.”

“It’s sort of uncomfortable going into a room and being the only person of color in there,” said one sophomore, who identified themselves as bi-racial. They then continued, “It does feel like it’s completely two different schools, one school is PSP and another is CAS. I don’t know anybody from PSP classes, and that’s not by choice, it’s just because I’m not given the opportunity to.”

The next students who spoke all brought up an important idea, that counselors should be actively encouraging students to challenge themselves by taking harder classes. “I think definitely there can be a lot more effort put into that area,” articulates one sophomore boy.

“It just feels like there isn’t enough encouragement for it,” adds another student, “when we get these papers to decide our classes, everyone’s doing it at the same time, you always end up choosing what your friends want to choose, and the teachers never explain [the differences between PSP and CAS], so it feels like there isn’t anything pushing kids to take those.”

One sophomore girl passionately explained her thoughts with a personal anecdote saying, “Our counselors aren’t always advocating for what’s best for us. I was deciding between PSP and CAS for a while, and my counselor said ‘maybe PSP is the right option’, but no, that’s not what I want to hear. I want to hear ‘No, you should challenge yourself, you should take these harder classes,’ and that’s not what I’m hearing. There are teachers here that care a lot, but there’s also teachers that don’t push as hard as they could [for kids to take harder classes].”

According to Mr. Rivers, the district has been working on the segregation issue for a long time. “It was a huge problem even when I was at Dice,” he told us. The good thing is that the district is now aware that the students identify it as a paramount issue within the school. Everyone in the room agreed that action needs to be taken, and starting with encouraging students of all races and backgrounds to challenge themselves would be a ideal jumping-off point.


Allderdice’s Reputation as an Unsafe School

At a certain point within the meeting, Mrs. Reid and Mr. Rivers explained to us how student enrollment is decreasing at Allderdice, just as it is throughout the entire district, and proposed to us the question: “What are some reasons a student would not want to attend Allderdice?” Almost immediately, every student at the table chirped in with the exact same answer: safety.

One senior cited an example of a certain incident she remembered saying, “There was a situation last year when some adult came in the school and pepper sprayed a student, and my mom heard that and she didn’t like that at all. That’s a concern among both students and parents that their child should come to school and feel safe, not threatened that an adult can come into school and pepper spray or put their hands on a kid.”

One senior brought up further concerns, even about the Starbucks down the road. She said, “[The Starbucks has] so much commotion. People always going down there to smoke, fight, everything like that.” 

“There’s a lot of issues of kids just walking through the hallway and getting jumped, hurt, and things like that,” yet another senior elaborated, “and there’s no reason at all that at 7:30 in the morning there should be a fight in a place where you’re going to learn and try to make a future for yourself.”

A sophomore boy added, “If you’re an eighth grader, someone coming to Dice next year, and you open up your phone the things you’re going to see about Dice are overwhelmingly negative. It’s usually a fight video, and even though that’s just a product of negative things and rumors spreading faster than the positives, it’s still a problem,”

Safety has certainly been a prevalent topic throughout this school year at Allderdice. From the continued prevalence of fights to the new hardcore bathroom policy, which was only briefly mentioned during the meeting as having mixed results, safety is something that many Allderdice students are concerned with.


Block Scheduling

The next idea that was brought up was changing the format of the current schedule to a block system. In a block scheduling approach, students have half of their classes one day and the other half the next. This system leads to classes that are twice as long, though with fewer of them throughout the day. Students would still get the same amount of class time over the course of a regular week. According to The School Superintendents Association, one in three American high schools utilize a block schedule system.

A sophomore in the meeting brought the idea up, saying that many of her friends from other schools say the block system works so much better. “Just bring it up to someone, please,” she asked Mrs. Ried and Mr. Rivers, “Periods are only forty minutes. It’s not a very long time. You know, you get into a topic and have a great discussion, but then the bell just rings and you can’t pick it back up. Also, going from class to class to class nine times, like it’s a lot going through your brain in one day. If you had four classes every day, get that homework, and then have the other four the next day, you have the next day to do all your homework for the classes you have tomorrow.” The sophomore also brought up how it’s a brain reset, to have half of your subjects one day and half on another, it gives you more time to process better information.

“You also then don’t have to carry around a thirty-pound backpack every day,” said another sophomore, somewhat jokingly. “My sister went to a block school, and she’d always be so excited to go to school the next day. It’s so different from a schedule where every day is the exact same. My sister would be so excited to go to school on Wednesdays. She’d say ‘OMG I have my favorite classes today! I’m so excited!’”


Positives of Allderdice

Although many negatives of student life at Allderdice were brought up, the positives were frequently pointed out as well.

For example, several students expressed that Allderdice has some of the best classes within the entire district and provides great opportunities for its students. Great electives, great APs, and great resources from teachers are all things Allderdice can boast. 

The great location Allderdice has was also brought up as a big positive multiple times. It is undeniable that areas such as Forbes Ave, The Waterfront, and Oakland are all very accessible to the student body as places to spend time with friends after the school day ends. 

The biggest positive agreed upon, however, was the ability to have this meeting in the first place. It’s a special situation that Allderdice has both students passionate enough to organize such a meeting, and a district that is willing and eager to listen to student voices throughout their schools. PPS is certainly not perfect, and the organization contains some big problems, but they do take the time to listen to their students’ concerns. After all, they have two positions specially made for it. For most public school districts you cannot say the same. 



The final student that spoke during the meeting was a freshman boy, who brought up something that he noticed within the school: “Once you are here it seems like there’s a culture of ‘it is what it is’. This is just how things are, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much a culture of people thinking things can change. People think of it as how do we deal with what we have, instead of thinking how can we make it better?”

With this Student Voice meeting, the path and culture to making Allderdice a better and more welcoming place is underway. We may have only laid the first few bricks on Tuesday morning, but all change must start somewhere.

While there were only a select few students who asked to attend the meetingthere is still opportunity for all students to have their voice heard. You can always reach out to Mrs. Lenell Reid or Mr. Jason Rivers through teams or email ([email protected]). Additionally, if you DM @diceforeword with any concerns, I will bring them up at the next meeting we are having, supposedly planned for sometime during the next two weeks.

Attending the meeting, even though I chose not to speak much and was more of an observer, made me proud of the Allderdice community that we are all a part of. We had an hour and a half of pure discussion, with every person in that room actively listening to what everyone else had to say about the state of our school. It was both productive and eye-opening, especially as someone who comes from such a different background (and state) compared to many other students at the school.

So speak out about the issues that are important to you, and do everything you can to make a difference in our community. The future generations of Allderdice will certainly thank you.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Sam Stavchansky
Sam Stavchansky, Staff Writer
Sam Stavchansky is a sophomore at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School. He comes from Austin, Texas, and has lived in Pittsburgh for a year. He runs for the Allderdice Cross Country and Track teams and plays basketball outside of school. He enjoys playing video games, reading, and playing chess in his free time.

Comments (0)

All The Foreword Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *