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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Portola High Students Join Annual IUSD Sacramento Student Advocacy Trip

Junior+Bill+Song%2C+senior+Gabe+Mutsvangwa%2C+junior+Sophie+Guilfoile%2C+junior+Evelyn+Lai%2C+senior+Kate+Abalos+and+junior+Mia+Jong+%28left+back+to+front+right%29+represented+Portola+High+at+the+2024+IUSD+Sacramento+student+advocacy+trip.+The+trip+encourages+critical+thinking+and+student+engagement+in+political+discussion%2C+according+to+Resendez.+%E2%80%9CYou+have+to+sit+in+a+room+with+a+legislator%2C+and+have+the+courage+to+stand+up+and+say%2C+I+have+a+story+to+tell%2C+and+you+need+to+know+about+it%2C%E2%80%9D+Resendez+said.+
Courtesy of Lauren Brooks
Junior Bill Song, senior Gabe Mutsvangwa, junior Sophie Guilfoile, junior Evelyn Lai, senior Kate Abalos and junior Mia Jong (left back to front right) represented Portola High at the 2024 IUSD Sacramento student advocacy trip. The trip encourages critical thinking and student engagement in political discussion, according to Resendez. “You have to sit in a room with a legislator, and have the courage to stand up and say, I have a story to tell, and you need to know about it,” Resendez said.

Six upperclassmen from Portola High participated in the annual Sacramento student advocacy trip on March 13, joined by students across the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD). The trip provided students with the opportunity to represent Irvine and share their perspective on policy interests to state legislators, according to trip adviser and social studies department chair Jon Resendez. 

Resendez said Juniors Bill Song, Sophie Guilfoile, Evelyn Lai and Mia Jong along with seniors Gabe Mutsvangwa and Kate Abalos went on the trip as a diverse body of students to more fully represent Portola.  The selected students met weekly for five weeks to prepare for the trip, receiving feedback from panelists including school board members and curricular directors, according to Resendez. Elaborate research about Senate and Assembly bills in the preparation process was reflected in the students’ effective communication with legislators, according to Resendez. 

“That main obstacle is the long learning curve students have about education policy, and the main triumph is when they begin to understand it,” Resendez said. “They can start to request things of policymakers in an effective way.”

In Sacramento, the students visited the California Department of Education and met with lobbyists, the Legislative Analyst’s Office and California State Representative Cottie Petrie-Norris for feedback about specific bills, according to Resendez. Students also met with California Governor’s Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary Ben Chida, who spoke about ethnic studies, according to student participant and senior Gabriel Mutsvangwa. 

“A lot of these issues aren’t something that you really notice on a day to day basis. But once they’re brought up, and you talk and share with other people, you kind of start to realize what things need to be changed,” student participant and junior Sophie Guilfoile said. 

Mutsvangwa said that the Sacramento advocacy trip will help students gain a broader, more open view of the legislative system. By engaging students in the legislative process, the conference can build their courage to stand up the truth, according to Resendez. 

“I want to support students in being able to find truth, speak truth and do truth,” Resendez said. “This trip really aligns with those three things. You have to figure out what you believe based on facts. You have to be able to articulate what you believe in an effective way.” 

The topics discussed in this year included ethnic studies, which helped emphasize on the education aspect of this advocacy trip, according to Mutsvangwa. Resendez said that he hopes students feel more engaged in educational policy changes and question critically through this student advocacy trip. 

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About the Contributor
Mary Lee, Staff Writer
Mary Lee is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. Unless she is refreshing her Google Classroom page to check for any announcements or assignment updates from her teachers, you can find her listening to flutist Sir James Galway and gawking at his impeccable tone and musicality. She hopes to learn about diverse perspectives on and off campus, one pomodoro at a time. Widening her writing experience is a life goal, and she is confident the Portola Pilot will bring her one step closer to reaching it.
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