This year, a real community

We teenagers love to complain. We complain about homework, food, fellow teenagers and pretty much anything else that can possibly be criticized.

But what you haven’t heard us complain about recently is the state of our democracy – our school’s Just Community. That’s because recently students and faculty have been participating in the Just Community system exceptionally frequently and have been making substantial changes.

The first semester isn’t even over yet and we have already voted on and amended a student-drafted schedule, discussed a possible amendment that would change the minimum grade point average that a student must have to participate in school governing committees, and had an intense school-wide discussion about this year’s new “30-day rule,” all using the famed Town Hall system. The progress is undeniable, as is student involvement in school affairs.

And Just Community activity hasn’t been limited to the Town Hall system. All three student-led committees — Student Activities (SAC), Fairness and Agenda – have been particularly active thus far. We’ve gotten a taste of well-organized SAC events like the Chanukah Cafe, and well-planned Town Hall topics like the boy in the cage. Almost every week, we hear the Fairness Committee chairs reminding people to bring cases to be heard.

These committees haven’t been abandoned by their chairs, and they don’t seem like they’ve organized events in half an hour. On the contrary, thus far, they have shown real dedication to their causes and continue to do the work they’ve committed to.

Perhaps most impressive is the involvement of this year’s freshmen. It’s expected that every year freshmen will be reluctant to speak out with radical opinions in Town Hall, or go all out on SAC dress-up days.  But freshmen are speaking in Town Hall and joining or trying out for assorted committees and extra-curriculars in record numbers — and they had three-way contested elections for almost every committee rep. They’re fully immersed in their new environment and have made it more enjoyable for the rest of us who’ve already been here for a while.

In order to maintain this kind of community, the administration has cracked down on certain rules. However, certain rules that are being especially enforced are rules that we accept and agree with.

We know if we wear short skirts, we have to either get another skirt or wear a skirt provided by the school. Attendance is being taken more carefully, and absences are only excused with a doctor’s note or in an absolute emergency. It’s clear, it’s solid and it keeps the Just Community humming nicely.

All this is not an easy task. A Just Community requires continued participation, activism and enthusiasm from all of its members. It’s always easier to tear something down than to built it up, and we shouldn’t take hard-earned success for granted. Everyone needs to keep at it.  New ideas for Town Hall should keep coming in. People sould keep bringing cases to Fairness. And so on.

But we’re happy to point out how well it’s been going so far and how much we’re looking forward to the rest of the year.