Everyone Wins Initiative
By: Jeff Rosborg
The COVID-19 pandemic had led to a large increase in funding for schools across the country, specifically in Connecticut. In November of 2021, the Commissioner of Education along with the Connecticut Department of Education launched the Voice4Change program, a program that would allow students to suggest how $20,000 of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) would be spent in their school. Seventy-six Connecticut high schools representing more than 55,000 students participated, meaning students across the state had to decide how more than $1.5 million of ARP ESSER funding would impact their schools. Along with preparing students to become the change-makers of tomorrow, and the decision makers of today, this first-of-its-kind, statewide civic engagement initiative had the goal of applying these federal relief funds to reimagine Connecticut’s schools, and create long lasting legacies for our community to benefit from for generations to come.
“Connecticut has always been an ideas factory with the greatest entrepreneurs in the world, and I’ve always thought, why don’t we have more entrepreneurs in the public sector,” Governor Ned Lamont said when interviewed by WTNH Channel 8 News.
Conard students Jeff Rosborg and Anish Pokhrel partnered up to work on and submit a proposal to the Connecticut Department of Education and were deemed eligible upon review. Written proposals had a requirement of falling under at least one of five priorities mentioned by the Department of Education, and the Everyone Wins Initiative, the title of Jeff Rosborg and Anish Pokhrel’s proposal, was deemed to fall under every single priority meaning it got the achievement of creating the most inclusive plan possible.
(Brief description of the Everyone Wins Initiative, including how many priority areas were met.)
“We have worked countless hours and days, lots of times staying up nights in order to be able to meet deadlines and requirements to bring to you the most perfect plan imaginable,” stated Anish Pokhrel in an interview.
Along with writing a proposal, they made sure to contact multiple department supervisors, teachers, students, and countless others within the community in order to give everyone the opportunity for their voices to be heard in this proposal. Then, toward the end of March of 2022, students at Conard casted their votes for Voice4Change, and on April 8th of 2022, the Everyone Wins Initiative was revealed to have won the majority vote.
(Link to the winners announcement video by the Connecticut State Department of Education: https://www.youtube.com/live/qECwClGWAao?feature=share)
(The full timeline of the Voice4Change process. Some dates differ from when Conard had its elections as well as when winners were announced.)
With the Everyone Wins Initiative focusing on funding multiple departments, this means a plethora of ideas came out of the project. The purchasing of 18 hydroponic stations for the science department will promote sustainability by allowing students to grow their own food which helps further expand the teaching of horticulture to the curriculum. The professional $6,000 3D printer will allow students to print anything from medical models to better study anatomy, to prosthetic parts for child and adult amputees. $1,000 of funding put towards menstrual products around March of 2023 ensured that girls would have access to a basic need for the rest of the school year, and for the future as well until the state would cover the funding for schools. The installation of a display case, specifically one for computer science related achievements, will open up a new field of learning to be represented through our students' accomplishments being rightfully represented for all to acknowledge. $1,000 of Funding for the new SAVE Club, inspired by the Sandy Hook Promise, will allow for an entirely new culture of prevention and intervention of violence to find success by being put towards improving the mental health of our students and broader community. New weights and dumbbells for the weightroom are currently being ordered to create a safer, and overall better experience at the school gym. The REACH program, an alternative program designed for students who are not experiencing success in the larger high school environment, will be getting a new television similar to ones displayed around the Conard hallways so that students there too can have school updates and listings displayed for all. Even the rock garden in the main hallway will see a revampment this summer, with student and staff volunteers alike working on creating a zen-filled paradise within the confines of Conard. There are plans to introduce butterfly bush and milkweed plants to attract butterflies as well so that the garden can serve as a safe haven for endangered species such as the monarch, as well as seem lively and vibrant which will hopefully translate towards students and staff feeling so as well as they pass by the garden.
(Link to the Everyone Wins Initiative’s campaign video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CbnI4IxFvu6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igshid=MmJiY2I4NDBkZg==)
Along with these ideas, funding for so many more aspects of Conard are being brought to reality such at props for theater productions in the Black Box, cafeteria innovations for new foods and lunch events to come to fruition, a new automatic bottle filler so that hydration can be more accessible, art supplies so that NAHS and all art students can bring their artistic imaginations and dreams to life via murals, funding for a better softball dugout, and even materials for clubs such as chess sets and playing cards.
(Picture from the campaign speech Jeff Rosborg gave in his video to the school in March of 2022.)
Even though facing a dilemma at the start of the 2022-2023 school year, being that funding did not arrive until January of the next year, 2023 at the time, work immediately started on spending funds on the specific aspects listed, and reworking proposal ideas that would fit the Conard of today to create long lasting impacts, affecting generations of students to come.
If you would like to learn more about the Everyone Wins Initiative or would like to get involved in any of the projects such as decorating the rock garden this summer, email one of the writers of this initiative, Jeff Rosborg, at JRosborg16@gmail.com or follow his instagram @TheJeffForReal (https://instagram.com/thejeffforreal?igshid=ZWQyN2ExYTkwZQ== ) where updates will be posted and where you can interact with polls and surveys.