Administration aims to bolster feelings of belongingness with CPS grant

By Ella Schulson

When Lane Principal Edwina Thompson was presented with a new CPS grant, the opportunities on what to spend it on were numerous.

“The [CPS Office of Student Protections] offered the opportunity for principals to apply for a $12,000 grant, and for that grant there were some conditions,” Thompson said. “The money has to be used to create something that could fall under three categories: Creating a sense of belonging, accountability, or consent within your school.”

Thompson decided to focus on belongingness, something she says the school has been working on. Lane officially announced the grant at the January Local School Council meeting. Earlier this month, Lane Administration told The Champion more specifics of the grant spending. 

The types of proposals, according to Thompson, could be anything that promoted belonging. She described that they could be academic, social or emotional related as long as they involved belonging. 

“We’re going to do a field day with the Cluster program to help them feel included,” Lane Tech Assistant Principal Dr. Sarah Hanly said. “So we’re going to help them, they’re doing an awareness week and then they’re doing a field day out in the stadium, so that’s helping with supplies for that. We also are funding some math teachers who wanted to hang a bunch of UN flags around the math wing to represent different countries to kind of show the variety of different cultures that we represent here, a variety of countries.” 

Funds will also be allocated to groups focused on supporting underrepresented groups. 

“We’ve got a group called Empower Her, which is a group that is devoted to empowering female positivity and empowerment,” Dr. Hanly said. “We’re taking some girls to a student of color symposium and then some other activities to help with self esteem for the other females in our community.”

One of the projects  will involve the contemporary painting class, Dr. Hanly said. 

“Some of the bathrooms have the murals outside of them; our goal is to do the rest of the bathrooms on the second floor, and then next year, if it’s through a similar grant or through something else, we’ll finish the first floor to provide more colorful aspects of going into the restrooms,” Dr. Hanly said.

Administration had been attempting to build consensus on what to use the grant money for, according to Thompson.

This grant is unique because it had the opportunity for student and staff input on what the money could potentially be used for, according to Thompson

“We had about 17 entries from students and staff. We were looking for a broad scope of activities that created a sense of belonging because that was really the intention of it,” Dr. Hanly said.

An important element of the grant was that it needed to be given to projects that are taking place sooner rather than later. 

“Part of the stipulation from the group is that it has to be something we can work through this school year,” Thompson said. “So some grants are things that would happen next school year or after the dates are done so I couldn’t choose those.”

There were some difficulties in enacting certain proposals, according to Dr. Hanly.

“It’s kind of a wide spectrum of things, so we really wanted the student voice on this, and we were happy to see the kids that put in,” Dr. Hanly said. “There’s been a couple of requests for things that are a little more challenging. We had a group put in for more picnic tables out on campus but we can’t put picnic tables on grass and it’s hard to find another concrete area that’s monitored. So we are working with those students to see what we can do about that but we love the ideas.” 

Some other examples of proposals Dr. Hanly said funds would be given to: flowers put out for students who want them, trivia prizes in the student news, and more funding for unity concert decorations. 

Another benefit of the grant, Dr. Hanly said, is that it has fewer limitations with the types of things that it can be used for.

“There’s just always difficulty around the district with rules around school property,” Dr. Hanly said. “But the nice thing about this grant is that we’re not beholden to only using district vendors, which is what holds us up from being able to do a lot of stuff. They are paying for this outside.”

Even though there were some proposals that couldn’t fit into the $12,000, Thompson said that many will still be funded. 

“There are so many projects, so our goal is to fund as many as possible, and for those that we can’t fund, if they actually create a sense of belonging, our goal is to find other funding for them,” Thompson said. “So it’s almost as if no one gets turned away if it’s a project around belonging. Even if I can’t use the 12k for it.”