Glenn Perez Rodriguez, a junior at Lakewood High School, participated in an all-student panel at the national town hall meeting for the Council of the Great City Schools last Friday. He was one of only 10 students nationwide to be selected.
The Council of the Great City Schools is a coalition of 76 of the nation’s largest urban public school systems, including the Long Beach Unified School District, dedicated to promoting the improvement of education for children in the inner cities.
The 75-minute “Students Speak Out on Race and Equity” virtual forum featured Rodriguez and students from nine urban school districts as they discussed the current issues of race and social justice in the United States.
The panelists shared a hope for schools and districts to begin incorporating student voices in discussions regarding race and social justice issues.
“My district actually started some spaces for student discussions – and that is great, but I want to see more,” Rodriguez said during the forum. “The fact that they actually care about students and how we are thinking and feeling means so much to me as a student, knowing that the district that supports me and that makes the policies that affect me actually cares about what I think.
“If they expand all of that to not only just me but every other student, and if they give all those students the opportunity to actually tell them what they are thinking, I feel like that is just the beginning of a much greater opportunity and that is just going to open the door to such a great end result,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is a 16-year-old with a strong leadership background and desire to serve his community. He was raised by Guatemalan and Mexican parents and has attended schools in Bellflower and Long Beach.
His experience includes serving as a youth leader for Californians for Justice (CFJ), and as a leading cadet for his school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps as well as a student consultant for the Instructional Leadership team. Rodriguez has also been a member of Cyberpatriot, a national youth cyber education program created by the Air Force Association to inspire students to pursue careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Currently, he is president of the Lakewood Ambassadors Club.
During his time as a leader at CFJ, he worked on campaigns that featured the voices of students and challenged racial disparities in schools.
Although he is still deciding on his post-high-school plans, he recognizes he has a responsibility to serve his community and has not ruled out the possibility of running for political office.