Last year Jeffrey Peterson along with the countless other students, felt that there needed to be a more effective method of conveying student voice within the district. In response he took a leadership role and created a student council.
During Peterson’s first three years at BHS (2011-15), there was a group called BHS Representatives. They did not communicate well with administration and were not representative of the student body.
“Setting the foundation for a solution to how student voice is heard was something I felt obligated to contribute to during my final year at BHS,” said Peterson, now a freshman in college.
To ensure that this new student government would be successful, social studies teacher Francesca Dupuis and Peterson reached out to the entire school population to get as many people involved in the planning process.
Despite their efforts, reaching this goal has been difficult. Senior Lucas Baumann is disappointed that the council has restricted meeting time.
“It is unfortunate that we are only allowed coucil time during [Wednesday choice time]” Baumann said. “It limits the diversity and the amount of people we could have.”
The main goal for the council was to create a group representative of the whole student body, giving all members of the school community a platform to express their views. Some goals for the near future included the election of a class president, increasing teacher involvement, and allowing for an uninterrupted time allow students to meet with the hopes of breaking down equal access barriers.
“In an ideal world there would be a time in our schedule where the council, some teachers, and administration were available to meet and discuss important topics during school hours,” said Dupuis, who serves as the faculty advisor.
There is talk about the creation of an “activities period,” which would be like a study hall and accessible to everybody. During this time the council would meet and anyone who is interested or wanted to voice their opinion could come and be part of the discussion.
“If passionate students, dedicated to their cause, come together, for nearly anything, it can and will be accomplished,” Peterson said.
During the beginning the council experienced pushback from certain student groups and faculty members, but it was essential to keep their mission statement in tact and strive for a representative government system.
School government programs have various benefits. They allow students to feel involved and connected to their school by having a say in the community and its functions. Students gain valuable experience and skills that will prove to be helpful in future employment or internship opportunities. So much about the ways school is run is dictated by people who experience minimal impact from the changes they propose. If students are involved at every level of school planning, from curriculum to structure of the school day, a more effective place for learning and the spread of ideas should be the result, according to Peterson.
“If students are encouraged to be active members of their school community, they are much more likely to have the same attitude towards their endeavors following graduation.” Peterson said. “It is a win-win opportunity for all parties involved.”
The council is currently working towards free condom availability in the nurse’s office, a project that has been in the works for five years. They are the first group to get remotely close to making this idea become reality.
“It is essential that students understand school is a place where they learn, and they need to demonstrate an interest in improving their school.” Peterson said. “Students can’t be afraid to stand up to authority. It may not always seem easy, but that is how progress is made.”
Senior Maddie Khamenei thinks the group fills a much needed gap in student voice.
“There are issues in our high school that only students can relate to, and only students have the right to touch on,” she said.