UC High’s PTSA Looking to Make Major Improvements

Sevilla Tovar, Editor-in-Chief

   The Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) is looking to amp up its efforts at improving the UC High community through new projects to boost school events, upgrade the media center, and foster better relations with the LGBTQIA+ community.

   According to PTSA President Mark Salata, “Currently, we have a proposed fundraising for two school vans and renovation of the Media Center into a community hub.”

   Principal Michael Paredes said, “These are standard multi-passenger vans that the district has agreed to work with schools for purchase. The vans could be kept at the site and even include our school logo.”

   Salata said, “Mr. Paredes brought it to the PTSA’s attention that the school district is making available such vans for schools to purchase.  They would be 12-seater vans and could be used for many student events.” Paredes said, “The vans could be used for everything from small field trips for student groups, or to transport some of our teams and clubs to events.”

   Paredes said, “We’ll need to work with our school community to identify and generate funding, but the cost for each van is approximately 40,000 dollars.”

   As for the renovated media center, according to Salata, “Some of the ideas include a small stage for performances such as spoken word or cabaret or karaoke, a study lounge area in the larger open space with small refreshments, a video recording room, podcast recording, music recording, 3-D printing stations, and a kitchen.”

   According to a mass email sent by Principal Michael Paredes, “We wrapped up the General PTSA Meeting on Thursday night with a presentation focused on inclusion at UC High. Clay Shaughnessy (Grade 11) and Rachael DeBraal (Grade 12) did a phenomenal job sharing about the importance of inclusion with members of our school community.”

   Shaughnessy said, “I spoke as part of a presentation to the PTSA about increasing inclusivity in University City high and how they can better support LGBTQIA+ youth in our neighborhood. I was one of four people involved in the presentation.” Shaughnessy was accompanied by Debraal, District Representative Maria Schembri, and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Member Dennis Nicely.

   According to Shaughnessy, “Schembri, from the district, who worked on the LGBTQIA+ youth safety resolution that we presented to the school board last spring, presented to the PTSA an overview of that resolution, what it will achieve, and why it was necessary. Nicely joined us from GLSEN and presented information about the organization including its background, history, and how it can be a valuable resource for schools, staff, and students. Debraal and I spoke on queer visibility on campus and in the community. This bit of the presentation covered why visibility is important and what queer visibility can look like both physically and socially.”

   Shaughnessy said, “Recently, University City has not been the most queer-friendly community. Our schools and neighborhoods are connected to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations. One of them is Grace City Church, an evangelical church that refuses to perform gay marriages and uses our school auditorium to hold its services. The main issue I have noticed with the PTSA is how easily some have discredited queer grievances when they are pointed out.”

   Shaughnessy continued, “I hope that when the PTSA or EdUCate come to another crossroads surrounding LGBTQIA+ inclusion, they remember what I had to share with them.”

   Salata said, “My hope is that the next President will expand the PTSA’s reach and impact to support both teachers’ and students’ successes in helping all students reach their full potential and be a part of the community.”