Courageous Conversations

SSJLAC tries to make changes at South High


Designed by Joe Wofford

Rough draft of the SSJLAC logo.

SSJLAC (Superintendent’s Social Justice Leadership Advisory Council) is a group for all grades across multiple Parkway schools.

At South, the meetings are held in Spanish teacher Julie Barnes’ room during Ac. Lab. This group communicates with the higher-ups inside the school to make sure the goals of the collective get accomplished. SSJLAC is open to anyone joining if they’re interested in making a change to the culture inside the school.

Many people inside South High look to make a change, but many don’t actually follow through with it. For 15 years, SSJLAC, has been trying to make a change and give a voice to students who want to get their word out.

Sponsor Carly Roach speaks on the purpose of the group. She is a sponsor along with Barnes and social studies teacher Pete Wissinger.

“Essentially the main purpose has been a chance for students and the school district to learn from each other about social justice topics. And so there are times when students are learning about how to have difficult conversations in kind of a leadership training style,” Roach said.

The purpose of SSJLAC varies across members but most of the members seem to have the same idea.

“The purpose is for the community to get together so people don’t feel uncomfortable being themselves,” sophomore SSJLAC member Ian Banks said.

According to junior Joe Wofford, for years people have been judged and looked at differently for being different because they were being themselves, not trying to put on a fake image and being true to themselves, but for some reason, some people think it’s not okay if you’re not what is considered the “norm” in this society. SSJLAC looks to change that, and make people feel comfortable being themselves.

Junior DJ Lee comments on what he wants the outcome of this group to be.

“For me personally I just wish that everybody could just come to school and feel happy, be happy to be themselves. One of the things we talk about is like there’s a difference between being respected and accepting, and I just wish that everybody could feel accepted for being themselves,” Lee said. “Our group doesn’t necessarily have any roles even though they appointed me as the coffee boy, which I find to be crazy. Everybody there is just students, we’re all equal. We don’t want it to come off as being staff or robots ’cause at the end of the day we’re all trying to get the same job done.”

This group also looks to put what they learn and accomplish onto the youth, hoping to keep the operation going, According to Lee.

“I’d say the entire idea is to bring it onto other grades, not just my grade (11) or who the school has in it right now, so whatever our plans are, are hopefully gonna be the endeavors of the next group,” Wofford said.