At Shawnee Mission high schools, the traditional PTA has gone through an evolution. This year, SM East is the last of the district high schools to convert to a PTSA – Parent Teacher Student Association.
Adding students to the traditional PTA at the high school level provides opportunities for the students and for the organization. “It’s an age when they can be having a voice,” says Kelly Cannova, president of the SM East PTSA this year. “We want their ideas.”
At SM East, the board will add a student member at each grade level. The PTSA programming will have speakers that are geared specifically toward students this school year. A discussion around diversity, a program around student social topics and a career connection evening are already on the agenda for student-focused programs this year. Those meetings are being held in the evening when students can attend. The PTSA also is planning a voter education push this year, hoping to work with students.
PTSA membership gives the students both leadership and volunteer opportunities and they can include membership on their college applications, Cannova says. Students can volunteer to help with PTSA projects such as the upcoming College Clinic and they have the leadership opportunities, such as applying for a board position. They are encouraged to have a voice, she says, and “if they have concerns, they can address them through PTSA.”
At SM East, the decision to include students in the organization was made at the end of last year.