House of Representatives opens dialogue
May 5, 2016
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Once a month, on a Friday morning before school, the newly formed House of Representatives provides a forum for the student body to communicate directly with the administration.
“I joined the House of Representatives because my PALS teacher talked to our class about what a good opportunity it would be to address conflicts going on at our school, which prompted me to volunteer. I feel that the first meeting went extremely well, and I liked that everyone there was part of the discussion, trying to come up with solutions to different problems that were brought up,” said freshman representative Makayla Klug.
The meeting was held to discuss current issues on campus, from the disrepair of the bathrooms to the length of the lunch period. Students from grades 9-12 participated in this conversation and reported back to their advisory classes.
“I joined the House of Representatives when my class elected me. I have been in Model UN for a bit, and I thought this was a good way to put some of those skills to use. It’s also a nice way to try and see what’s going on at our school,” said sophomore Austin Hanlin.
The House of Representatives is an easier way to communicate with students and advisory classes. For many in the office and around our school, the only way to receive information about the student body is through ASB. Although ASB works closely with the administration, many students outside ASB have no contact with the people making decisions on campus.
“When I look at student surveys, like the Healthy Kids Survey, where LBHS students answered questions about school connectedness, many students answered that they had little to no say in the things that are going on around campus,” said principal Chris Herzfeld.
The goal of this program is to give access to the administration for all students, ASB or not.
“There are a whole bunch of different levels of communication. There are thing that are mundane, like a broken drink fountain, that we might not know about,” said Herzfeld.
Currently, the students are set to meet once a month; however, this may change due to the difficulty of scheduling meetings and the number of issues on campus.
“Some of the most interesting things we talked about the issue of having to walk across the school to get a tardy slip which causes you to miss even more of your class as well as setting up a recycling program for paper, similar to the plastic water bottle recycling program,” said Klug
During the first two meetings, the students discussed many issues which affect them everyday. A main topic of conversation was the bathrooms, from hygiene to privacy issues. The discussion helped the administration to note the lack of supplies, which bathrooms contained broken appliances, and which bathrooms need a more frequent cleaning schedule. From small issues, like a leaking faucet, to big issues, like privacy invasion, the House of Representatives helps the principal and the staff to fix problems they were previously not aware of.
“I think the meetings are going well and that it’s a good idea in principle. If the changes we suggest go into effect and positively affect this campus, then we can label it as a success,” said Hanlin.
The program is set to be fully student-run in the future. Eventually, the House of Representatives will be lead by student presidents, vice presidents, historians and secretaries.
“The fact that students are invested enough to come in on Friday morning before school is impressive. I think student should understand that it is in their best interest to join because they receive a certificate that says they participated in this leadership opportunity and that it was on their own time. I think just being able to put this down on your resume or college application makes it a pretty good opportunity” said Herzfeld
The role of students in this organization is vital as the ideas brought up in meeting have the ability to change our school forever. Many issues, as well as questions, have been answered through House of Representative meetings. During the last meeting, many students complained about the locked gates, to which administration explained the importance of these door and student safety. The House of Representatives is a wonderful way for administration to communicate the reasons behind the decision making that takes place.
“In our most recent meeting the bathrooms were of primary concern, how clean they are and if anything needs to be fixed in them. We talked about placing AC, heating and wifi in the theater. The general maintenance of the school and the seeming lack of knowledge students and parents have of the resources we have available at the school were also discussed,” said Hanlin.
What do you want to see changed at our school? Talk to your advisory representative today so they can discuss it in the next meeting.
“I think that it is important for students to have direct access to administration for issues, concerns and ideas, and I don’t think we have a forum in place that can provide that,” said Herzfeld.