Hands Down, Voices Up


Adults don’t raise their hands in conversation. Why should students? 

That’s the idea behind Hands Down Voices Up, a summit to empower student voice at JUMP in Boise, Idaho on October 23–25. 

“If you see a business meeting, adults aren’t in there raising their hands to speak,” says Jadon Chen, One Stone board member and part of the summit’s planning team.

“If you see a business meeting, adults aren’t in there raising their hands to speak.”

–Jadon Chen, One Stone Learner

Chen and the rest of his 10-person team look forward to bringing students and educators together from all over the nation from a variety of schools – public, charter and private – to talk about student-driven learning and what it looks like in practice.

“Part of it is networking, part of it is building connections. Like, how do you do this at your school?” says Basil Wright, HDVU team member. “Another big part of it is normalizing this idea of student voice and showing this is what other students have, this is what you could have too. It’s motivating.”

The summit will dive deep into three concepts at the heart of student-driven learning: innovative learning, culture building and change making. Celeste Bolin, One Stone Lab School Co-Director, says these three concepts are at the heart of what makes the school relevant to learners, so it will be part of the experience that One Stone learners bring to the summit. 

“We put learning in the hands of the learner and pass the mic to find out what change actually needs to take place, relevant to their world,” says Bolin. “And we support them in gaining the skills, mindset, knowledge and creativity to lead that change.”

Attendees will also learn about One Stone’s Project Good, where students use design thinking and experiential service to solve real problems.

“We want to have people leave and start their own version of Project Good. We have larger, long-term plans for this summit and the change we hope to inspire,” Chen explains.

One Stone has been growing steadily over the last decade – building and expanding its after-school programs as well as opening a year-round lab school that’s now in its fourth year. Last spring, One Stone was featured in a documentary called Rise: Voice of a New Generation, which detailed the many ways it differs from other schools across the nation. Discussions prompted by the film raised a bigger question: how might we bring more people into the conversation about student voice? That’s where the idea for Hands Down Voices Up began, and its organizers see it as yet another milestone in the movement for student voice. 

“In the past, when I’ve gone to education summits, it’s been a lot about the educators and only a small glimpse of what it’s like to be a learner,” says Jenevive Briggs, another member of the HDVU planning team.


One of the ways the planning committee will support student interaction and engagement is through social events. They’re exploring the idea of a concert, with performances by One Stone bands and musicians, to give young conference attendees the opportunity to relax and connect on a personal level. Briggs says it’s an idea that’s important to her, since she wants to build camaraderie with fellow learners from similar schools across the nation.

“We have the same goal, same mission, and same desires,” Briggs explains. “It’s about realizing that and coming together to work together.”

Ultimately, the planning team wants Hands Down Voices Up to inspire other schools and communities to integrate more student-driven learning experiences into their curriculums. 

“Because if you’re not sharing, you’re stuck in this little box,” says Briggs. “And it’s important for students like me who are in learner-driven education to be able to speak out and say, this is what it’s done for me.” 

Learning that’s driven by students, for students.

That’s the power of student voice.