The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Letter to the School Board

Junior+Jesse+Guasch+reading+his+letter+to+the+school+board+which+addresses+effects+the+budget+cuts+would+have+on+school+social+workers+and+students+mental+health.
©HAWKEYE image credit: Seras Bryner
Junior Jesse Guasch reading his letter to the school board which addresses effects the budget cuts would have on school social workers and students’ mental health.

My name is Jesse Guasch, I’m a current junior at Mountlake Terrace High School. Although there are many other issues I would like to shine a light on at the moment, such as the cuts to the Performing Arts program in the district, I’d like to specifically center on the cuts to the School Social Work Program in the Edmonds School District.

As a Latino student in the district, and as an aspiring social worker myself I find that it is my duty to self-advocate for my community wherever possible, and I believe that these cuts being made to the Social Work program are not just.

To begin, I’d like to highlight a portion of the work that my school social worker, Ms. Victoria Castaneda does for the students of Mountlake Terrace High School and Brier Terrace Middle school. The work that Ms. Victoria does includes, but is not limited to, providing counseling, housing insecurity support, crisis intervention, and immigration trauma support (to name a few).

To put it simply, the work that Ms. Victoria does for the students in the Edmonds School District is nothing short of crucial, if not absolutely necessary for the mental health and wellbeing of the multitude of students she works with. Not only does Ms. Victoria help students with their personal concerns, but she also acts as the advisor for the Latino Student Union at Mountlake Terrace High School, of which I am current vice president. Ms. Victoria works tirelessly every day with a broad range of students across the district regardless of gender, race, or identity. As a member of the Latino community herself, Ms. Victoria is able to provide support for Latino students in the community. Students who may not be fluent in English. Students who suffer from immigration-related trauma, students who rely on Ms. Victoria to simply get through their day, in a school where she might be the only adult in the building who understands that student’s struggles and experiences.

Throughout this last year, Ms. Victoria has given me an incredible amount of opportunities to give back to my community, and has given me knowledge that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

To continue, I’d like to touch upon the demographic of students impacted by this cut to the Social Work Program. To quote the letter made by the School Social Work program to the District Board, “In Edmonds, School Social Workers’ case loads are made up of approximately 70% or more students of color as well as students who identify as LGBTQI+.” The Edmonds School District takes pride and identifies with the saying “Equity, Engagement, and Excellence”. How can we, as a district, uphold that with good faith after terminating a program that’s main demographic is made up of minority communities.

Furthermore, I direct this message specifically to the superintendent of the Edmonds School District, whom I had the pleasure of meeting this past Saturday. In this time, where mental health needs are the greatest they have been in years, where interpersonal violence and behavioral issues are on the rise, and where access to mental health counseling and support is so limited, I propose the question, what exactly does this say to the families, students, and the community regarding your priorities and commitment to the wellbeing of your students?

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About the Contributor
Seras Bryner
Seras Bryner, Hawkeye Co-Editor-in-Chief
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