Mention Paschal High School, and most Fort Worth residents think of the highly praised, academically competitive, safe high school that has been considered our city's best for most of its 126 years of existence.But Paschal students' daily experience is far from "best." Desks are broken. Textbooks are so vandalized that they're unreadable. Restrooms do not have soap or toilet paper; many of the stall doors have missing or broken latches, so students who want privacy "lock" the doors with wads of chewing gum.There's money for state-of-the-art classroom technology and a new football field, but nothing to assure that students can tend to basic physical needs with some level of human dignity or have one of the simplest tools of learning: a readable book.This is my fourth year at Paschal. In the spring, during the latter part of my junior year, I began asking questions about how school funding was used. The Paschal administration seemed to spend money on some things that were trivial, yet there were a lot of unmet basic needs. My friends, many of them in Paschal student government, and I were puzzled. After asking many teachers for clarification, we discovered that they were just as baffled as we were.Looking for information, I requested a meeting with my principal through e-mail and by talking with her administrative assistant, but that brought no results. I e-mailed my elected representative, Juan Rangel, a member of the Fort Worth school board, and got attention.I met with Hank Johnson, the school district's chief financial officer. I went into the meeting hopeful that I would get some answers. After we discussed the budgetary process for quite some time, I mentioned the bathroom stall door held together by gum. Johnson seemed shocked to hear that something like that existed.With that, I suddenly felt I had discovered the real problem with Paschal and the Fort Worth school district: Students might be angry -- and the administration might even agree with students about unacceptable conditions -- but no one is listening for the students' voices, and until someone is, no change will be made.For Paschal or any other school in the district to improve its conditions, the students who attend every day must speak up and let the school administration, our parents, our teachers and our principals know about these unpleasant things that make us so uncomfortable.And these adult leaders must be willing to listen. When I was asking my initial questions, I didn't feel like I was taken seriously until I invoked the Texas Public Information Act and pointed out that I was entitled to a response within 10 working days.Only after I sent my questions to my elected representative and met with district officials did I feel like I was treated with respect for my interest. It shouldn't take a horror story about nasty restrooms to have a student's voice heard.Conversely, students need to take responsibility for not letting things get so bad before challenging the situation. I ask students to speak out about things at your school that make you feel disrespected, unvalued and so angry you could cry.Parents, teachers, district officials and principals, please listen when we speak. We are your sounding board, and we know the conditions of the school better than you do.Most of us have something worthy to say. Someone just has to listen.Katherine Swanson is a senior at Paschal High School in Fort Worth.