Idaho, we invite you to listen to students

As you are reading this, somewhere in Idaho a student is deep in thought, pouring over a textbook to solve a difficult equation. Somewhere, a student is dreaming about the future: making a breakthrough medical discovery, attending a dream university, or traveling the world to study abroad.

But just as one student is achieving goals one step at a time, there are others who are struggling desperately — who have quit studying for tests because they have given up on understanding the material, or who can’t comprehend a future of higher education because they lack the resources to achieve one.

Currently, only one out of five Idaho juniors is prepared for college or a career, and by 2018, almost 70 percent of Idaho jobs will require a degree or certification. For those who care about the future of our beloved state, let it be known that these issues extend far beyond the scope of the individual and will continue to affect the generations to come.
We have consulted advisory boards, experts in the field and education stakeholders across the state, yet we have overlooked the perspective of the largest and most directly influenced category of people involved in the learning process: Idaho’s students.

As participants in the system we have created, students have the greatest insight into the challenges of our schools, yet we rarely ask them for their input on a system that is not preparing them for success in the 21st Century. The lack of student voice in a service designed for students is disturbing.

This is where One Stone comes in. As a high school student-led non-profit with a mission to make students better leaders and the world a better place, we know it is time for us to step up and join this conversation. The voices of students are powerful when we have the platform to share our ideas about how to do it better.

We learned this in October 2014 when we collaborated with the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to launch the 24-Hour Think Challenge. The Think Challenge is a two-day collaborative event for 150 high school juniors to use their exceptional visions to solve Idaho’s biggest challenges. The results were groundbreaking and the discoveries even more so. This year, at the 24-Hour Think Challenge 2.0, we are challenging ourselves to go further, asking “How can we re-invent learning to be 21st Century-relevant for Idaho students?”

Students will spend 24 hours combining their knowledge of the Idaho learning experience with insight from experts of all different backgrounds and use design thinking to develop solutions to the critical economic development issue of education. With representation from 34 schools in Southwest Idaho, the Think Challenge will bring together students of every extracurricular passion, socioeconomic status, and GPA to create innovative solutions that reach the widest audience of recipients. These inventive solutions will be presented in a pitch to hundreds of community members at 4 p.m., Oct. 2 at the CenturyLink Arena in downtown Boise. To secure your free ticket for the event, visit onestone.org/register.

The limitless passion and creativity of students has been begging to be heard for years; we invite you, Idaho, to listen.

Simone Migliori is a senior at Boise High School and the One Stone board chair.