Clifton High’s Student Union: Constantly Lifting Student Voices


Within each and every community, there is an ever-present desire among the members to be seen and heard; to know that one’s voice has value in their society and among their peers. Yet, despite how constant this need has been throughout history, time and time again it has proven to be a great feat to truly achieve equal representation. But at Clifton High School, a group of ambitious and passionate students are ensuring that such a thing flourishes at CHS.

The Clifton Student Union at Clifton High is a student-led organization that exists to gather and listen to any concerns students may have and communicate these issues to the school’s administration and, if needed, the Board of Education. President and Junior at CHS Alias Ragsdale says that oftentimes, students' voices are “kind of suppressed and ignored” and that the union aims to let the student body know that they have “an organization that is meant to protect them and fight for them.” And fight they have.

In the few years since the union was established, the group has accomplished invaluable feats for the school, making astounding progress in improving conditions for students and staff alike. In 2017, then-president Carlos Polanco organized a protest in which nearly 300 students marched to City Hall after school in protest of the state’s school funding formula. In the nine years leading up to the protest, Clifton School’s funding had been cut by nearly 50 million dollars. The union has also been a major advocate for the record-breaking referendum that was passed just two years ago which allocated $168 million to Clifton Public Schools. The referendum will fund the much-needed TLC of the district’s schools with improvements such as AC installation, updated security cameras and new security guards, decades-old bathrooms being rebuilt, and the auditoriums of each of the middle schools getting renovated, along with other beneficial changes. Just last year the group fought for free feminine products to be placed in the school’s bathrooms for easy and accessible access, and these will soon be placed in the new bathrooms that are being built under the referendum. The Student Union was also key in improving and adjusting the COVID restrictions in place last year by removing distracting and vision-blocking desk borders and getting jackets to be allowed in classrooms during the winter as all windows had to be opened for maximum airflow.

Despite how much they have achieved and how well-known they have become in the community, the union finds that their biggest challenge is frequent student participation and attendance at meetings. Oftentimes, students underestimate how powerful their opinions could be, finding themselves under the impression that their voice has little impact in a sea of others. Yet, the student union is here to prove just how influential these voices can be if applied correctly. Ragsdale says that their main mission is “making it known that we are here and we are here for the students.” Even now, the union is considering their focus for next year to be about getting equal funding for all of the sports teams, as many have complained about the disproportionate budget for different sports.

The Clifton Student Union is a prime example of the power that can take form when members of a community and of a shared passion come together to work towards the same goal. The union will continue to ensure that the voices of Clifton High students - present and future - hopefully for generations to come are heard, respected, and valued. Not only does the club exhibit a pivotal principle of what our society should aim to be, but they are an inspiration to young people everywhere, proudly proving that activism has absolutely no age limit.


For more information about the Clifton Student Union, you can email the president or the teacher advisor here:

President, Alias Ragsdale:

Teacher Advisor, Mr. Onacilla:

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