A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Editorial, Opinion, Showcase

Let the Student Voice Be Heard

For most of the Northampton High School’s past, the student body has been unrepresented and uninfluential regarding administrative decisions. Students are directly impacted by changes at NHS, and it is unfair for major problems to be addressed without their input. The editorial board of the Devils Advocate has come to the conclusion that NHS must find a way to give students representation.

The NHS administration should consider creating a student advisory committee composed of elected representatives to give feedback and help make decisions for the school community.

Students may not fully understand how a school operates, but they are more aware of the culture and opinions of students than most teachers or administrators. By pairing a student representative body with the administration, the two groups can cross-pollinate ideas to formulate the best decisions for NHS.

There is no reason students should be denied the privilege to be part of administrative decisions that will inevitably affect them and future students. Several other schools across the state already have student representative committees such as the entire Boston Public School system. BPS high schools require a student to be elected by his or her peers to be a representative for the school’s students. Students on the BPS committees have been involved in helping create teacher evaluations, revising the Code of Conduct, and improving cell phone policies. Why should NHS, one of the highest ranked and most progressive high schools in the state, be lagging behind the largest public school system in the state?

However, reconstructing the Student Senate or forming an administration-chosen representative committee would not fulfill the need for student input. The Student Senate is still trying to figure out how to operate efficiently, and its members are not elected by the student body. A committee selected by the administration could be unfairly chosen and could lack the ability to represent all students. Also, though each grade has class officers, they are minimally involved in working with administration to create solutions.

Therefore, the editorial board suggests that the student representative committee for the NHS administration be composed of the class officers from grades 9-12. This will ensure the members were elected, each grade is spoken for, and there will be a variety of opinions. Class officers would convene on a regular basis with the NHS administration to discuss school problems and work to create solutions.

A student representative committee would be able to help advise on changes to academics, school security, handbook rules, and technology. In the past, there has not been a student group giving input to the administration on issues such as changing the history department curriculum, graduation requirements, school punishments, grading systems, or requiring students to pay for an AP exam if they are in an AP course. Student input helps to ensure that the decisions being made consider student viewpoints, and improve student life.

Every day of the week, we are the ones going to classes, doing our homework, studying for the next day of school. We are the ones joining clubs, dealing with socializing issues, and trying to discover ourselves. We are the people of this high school and we deserve input on how our 720 days in high school are spent.

We recognize the NHS administration is busy with several other important decisions, but it is long past time to create a student representative committee.