High School Student Champions Legislative Change for Student Attendance

In a world where some may dismiss teenagers as phone-obsessed, Maria Davila, a junior at 21st Century Learning Institute, is changing the stereotype and proving that young minds are capable of extraordinary feats. With her blend of tenacity, empathy, and a sprinkle of youthful charm, Davila is leading legislative change to support students facing attendance challenges.


Teaming up with Assemblymember Maienshein, Davila helped author two bills, AB 1939 and AB 2771, with the aim of providing lifelines to students struggling with attendance issues. AB 1939 ensures that student voices are heard on attendance review boards to provide peer support. Meanwhile, AB 2771 empowers schools to form absence intervention teams, if they don’t already have one.


Davila’s journey into advocacy began when she joined the Youth Advisory Council for District 5. As she navigated the intricacies of local governance, Davila discovered a passion for creating positive change – a passion that would fuel her through the highs and lows of her high school experience.


However, Davila's path took an unexpected detour during her sophomore year when she faced medical issues and was struggling with her school attendance. But this setback only fueled her resolve to ensure that no student would ever feel as adrift as she did. Armed with determination and a hefty dose of optimism, Davila embarked on a mission to tackle chronic absenteeism head-on.


With the passage of the two bills, Davila has proven that her commitment to change knows no boundaries – except, perhaps, the ones she's helping to break down.

With her sights set on the Washington Conference and other opportunities to amplify her voice, Davila is proving that the only thing she's absent from is the status quo. As she continues to march forward, she's paving the way for a generation of change makers.


Kellie Boatman, the 21st Century Learning and Beaumont Middle College High School counselor, expressed admiration for Davila's resilience, stating, "I love that she took something that she was struggling with and then did something to change it and help others.”

As Davila continues her journey, she serves as a beacon of hope; a reminder that no obstacle is insurmountable when faced with determination and a dash of teenage spirit.

by Alex Sponheim