by Leah Schroeder ‘13
“We collectively decided to work harder to voice the issues that matter most: those of students,” said SGA Vice President Darpan Kayastha. “Our efforts have attempted to include the opinions of many more individuals than those who inhabit the SGA office … It was clear that our widespread support and opinions made the issues much more important and likely to be addressed.”
The SGA surveyed students regarding the morning announcements, the loss of testing days, the warning bell, the new attendance policy and the elimination of on-grade level English 11. They presented the results of the surveys to Principal Bill Gregory in October and to the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) in November.
“The school belongs to everyone. Policies and programs should have input from students, staff and parents. It has been important to me … to ask students what they [want] … I could sit here and have the best ideas, but if they don’t mean anything to the students, what good are they?” said Gregory.
The SGA found that students feel the morning announcements don’t communicate information effectively. The SGA has suggested to TV Production teacher Jason Daigle that written parts be included for those who can watch, but cannot hear, and that the announcements be segmented to allow people to pay selective attention. The ILT determined that the announcements need to be started at the same time each day. These changes have since been made.
The surveys also found that students are concerned about having many tests on one day due to the school’s decision to not have assigned testing days for each subject. “It was clear that this subject was a controversial one,” said SGA President Brian Barrett. “We emphasized the fact that though most teachers argue that having many tests prepares one for the rigor of college … in a college schedule, which typically has around four classes, excessive numbers of tests in one day are highly unlikely.”
The ILT and administration stated that they will look into the need for testing days at a future ILT meeting.
The SGA also found that most students feel that the attendance policy is not consistently enforced and that there is inequity in the penalties that students are given.
To ensure consistency in how teachers follow the policy, Gregory directed administrators and departments to work with teachers to help them uphold the rules of the school.
Many students had problems with the loss of on-grade level English 11 and the current instruction in honors classes. Gregory informed the SGA that the change was only made because the on-level and honors English 11 curriculums are the same and that the grades being earned this year are similar to last year, in regard to number of As, Bs, Cs, etc.
The SGA took the issue to the Montgomery County Regional SGA (MCR), who asked the Board of Education for clarification as to why the curriculums are the same. The information they find will be announced at the MCR meeting on December 15.
“We are confident that people will feel more empowered, influential and important because the issues they are concerned about are being worked on,” said SGA Treasurer Amanda Chiogioji.
The SGA will continue to poll students on their concerns and hopes to keep them informed through The SGA Minute and The Warrior.