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Education

Students raise the Pride flag as SD Unified considers more state funding

Students from across the San Diego Unified School District gathered Thursday morning for the annual raising of the Pride flag over the administration building in University Heights.

Many of the students are members of LGBTQ communities. They were joined by their families and district staff members.

Chelsea Long, a student at Mission Bay High School, said: “The Pride flag is a symbol and a powerful one, but symbols lose their meaning without action behind them.”

The district proudly promotes its growing curriculum of inclusion and diversity, an effective bullying reporting system, and transgender-affirming policies.

Matthew Quitoriano, 14, is a freshman at San Diego High School. He is bisexual and one of the newly elected student members of the Board of Education who has finances at the top of his agenda.

“I’ve experienced a lot of economic disparities personally and through my friends. I can bring that experience to the table and bring change that I want to see and I want my friends to see,” he said.

The flag-raising event happened on the heels of the release of the state legislative budget proposal. It includes $300 million to fund transitional kindergarten programs to help students from low-income families. There is also an increase of $1.2 billion for school transportation to fund electric buses and other zero-to-low-emission vehicles.

Enrique Ruacho, the district’s new chief of staff, is keeping close tabs on the state’s financial commitment. “What we learned through the pandemic is that schools are critical not only to the economy of the state but to the future of the state, as well,” he said.

That future includes many of the students who participated in the flag-raising event and represent a variety of marginalized communities.

Lea Nepomuceno is the other newly elected student school board member. She is a junior at Scripps Ranch High school. She said her agenda for the coming year includes “equity and empowerment and upholding restorative justice policies, gun violence prevention, menstrual product accessibility, and school lunch inclusivity.”

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M.G. Perez
Zachary Patterson, 18, is the outgoing student member of the Board of Education, a position he helped create. He will be replaced by Lea Nepomuceno, 16, a junior at Scripps Ranch High School, and Matthew Quitoriano, 14, a freshman at San Diego High School, San Diego, CA, June 2, 2022.

Nepomuceno and Quitoriano will officially be sworn in as school board members at the end of the month. They replace Zachary Patterson, the outgoing student member who helped create the position.

On Thursday, he recalled his time on the board: “I hope that every San Diego Unified student knows that, while we may not create perfect schools, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure you have a space to be who you are and to love who you are.”