OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Youth Advisory Board chairwoman Madelyn Kittrell said it all started with an idea.
"We felt there was a need to talk about discrimination at ORHS," she said.
The city of Oak Ridge appointed the board of students. This summer, Kittrell's team wanted to bring attention to three big issues facing their peers, including discrimination, drugs and mental health.
"We wanted to give students a voice," she said.
The survey was multiple choice and included 10 to 15 questions, which students accessed through a school website.
"It was just an online e-form and we advertised it on the morning announcements," board member Caroline Webb said.
While some questions broke down discrimination, others explained whether or not students felt supported.
"We do realize these were problems on some things, but we didn't expect them to be as high on some things," board member Jayden Ellis said.
She is talking about the issue of vaping, which is a topic sweeping the nation. According to the survey 69.4% of over 500 students said it was a problem.
"I know I was shocked," Webb said.
There were some positive outcomes, too. More than half of students felt access to mental health resources improved, which the board said it credits to the school and the city.
"They've been trying to help I know the guidance office has been trying to help," Webb said.
With the numbers out there, the group is hoping to see some changes. They also hope this will inspire other teens to speak up for themselves, their classmates and their school.
"I know that we're just high school students, but sometimes high schools students have the biggest voices and I just want people to know that they are heard, we are listening and we're trying to help you," Webb said.