SAB and SVC: Working to Better the Student Body


The left picture is some of the Student Voice Committee members: Collin Syler, Sam Sabha, Lisette Lemerise, Nikhita Khosa, Mina Kandelchy, Sarah Ko, and Adona Yu. The Student Voice Committee encompasses its personal weekly meetings every Friday and their Town Hall every month. The right picture is the Student Advisory Board president Shirley ElFishawy and Vice President Farah Afify. They are posed in front of the Senior Handprint Wall, one of their many initiatives.

The Student Advisory Board (SAB) and the Student Voice Committee (SVC) are two organizations at the Utica Academy of International Studies that are crucial to the progression and improvement of the student body. This is due to how much they are involved in the student body and how much they make the school unique. Yet most students have not a clue of who they are or what they do. To most, they seem secretive as they plan initiatives. This article will serve to inform who SAB and SVC are.

SAB was created during the first year of UAIS to act as a “vehicle for student voice to occur,” as SAB advisor Mr. Layson put it. SAB started off as a council of five students from various junior highs out of the first class of ninety students. Mr. Layson points out that students role in what UAIS is today is equal to the role that was played by the teachers. This, in part, comes from what ideas SAB made reality from the first year of UAIS. UAIS has evolved since its start to include Olympics which is entirely student-run and sets this school apart from the rest.

Comparatively, SVC is a very young organization. Mr. Spear has only recently created SVC. He explained that there was a need for “an additional committee to address and cultural and affective needs.” To be precise, there was a need to improve “interpersonal relationships within grades” and he found that he needed to “provide a venue for students to express concerns, ideas, and gratitude regarding the progress of the school.” Due to those needs, Mr. Spear embarked on making another student board for UAIS.

SAB and SVC have very different methods of recruiting its members. SAB members are recruited in their freshman year to serve for the rest of their four years in high school. Teachers appoint eligible students by observing which of them have best grasped the IB learner profile traits.

Similar to SAB, SVC recruits its members in their freshman year, but a different method is used. Prospective students are required to answer a few short essay prompts. After that, they are interviewed by Mr. Spear to see if they are a good fit for the committee. They also serve for the whole four years.

After they are recruited, these organizations keep their members busy with their assigned tasks and their initiatives.  SAB members have weekly meetings and they are part of one to two committees, ranging from the historians to the Olympic prep committee. These smaller committees require them to finish their assigned tasks to complete their initiatives. For instance, the Olympic Prep committee creates tasks for their members to make the Olympics a success. In the words of senior SAB president Shirley ElFishawy, their jobs also include to “constantly reflect and receive feedback” to better the student body. Shirley believes that the purpose of SAB is “to be a liaison between students and faculty and use that communication to provide the best experience for UAIS [faculty and students].”

Junior SAB vice president Farah Afify,  said that their most hectic time is around Olympics while their most peaceful time is after since it is a weight off their shoulders. Farah did mention that though they may have hectic and peaceful periods during the course of the school year,  they never have down time at their meetings since they always have something to discuss to better SAB.

Besides Olympics, SAB oversees freshman orientation, Academic Blitz, Extravaganza, and graduation. Though they do interact with the whole student body, they mostly deal with integrating the incoming freshmen and helping the seniors have a smooth transition to college.

SVC keeps its members busy as well. SVC’s formal purpose is “to strengthen the bond between students and teachers” and they do this by “working on school culture” as senior SVC vice president Nikhita Khosa declares. They work on school culture by having their personal weekly meetings and their town halls they hold every month. SVC vice president explains that at their meetings they are expected to “have good ideas to bring to the table” and they are required to present their initiatives at staff meetings. Their town halls invite students to ask questions about the school, speak their concerns, and express their gratitude, thereby being the fulfillment of the venue Mr. Spear wanted with the creation of SVC.

In addition, SVS is in-charge of AMES activities such as the iBuddy system. Unlike SAB, their initiatives always pertain to the whole student body. They have no distinction between hectic and peaceful times in SVC.

There would be stark differences in how UAIS works if there was no SAB and SVC. Without SAB, Shirley said that “There would be a lack of communication between students and teachers.” Farah added on that there would neither be Olympics nor Freshmen Orientation and there would be distinct differences with how graduation runs. “Since SAB is for the most part responsible for recruiting the best students we can find for our freshman class, if it were to disappear, it would really show in the student body or how many people apply to the school.” Farah’s opinion comes from how SAB plays a lot in how UAIS shows itself to the district with the Extravaganza they put on every year for prospective students.

Without SVC, UAIS would severely lack in the communication and the understanding that students and teachers have of each other. There would be no iBuddy system which has helped students get to know their younger and older peers and there would be no town hall every month. Nikhita points out “Students would not be able to voice their concerns. There would be an ignorance in the student body because they wouldn’t know why they couldn’t have certain things and they wouldn’t be able to ask questions about it.”

In conclusion, SAB and SVC  are both student organizations who are trying their best to improve student’s hectic lives at UAIS.