The Just Community may be back


By the Boiling Point Editorial Board

Greek legend tells us of a mythical creature called the phoenix — a flaming bird that every 500 years would self-immolate and turn into a pile of ash, from which a new phoenix would be born. While our school’s mascot is a Firehawk — not a phoenix — which has no mythological background, the phoenix’s representation of rebirth carries weight at Shalhevet of recent.

Shalhevet has grown from the small experimental school founded by Dr. Jerry Friedman in 1992. We now have almost twice the number of students, a brand new building and new school administrators. The constitution that once anchored our Just Community now is little more than a large document that sits on a wall of the second floor.  And most importantly, there is little engagement with the democratic system that was originally initiated 27 years ago.

This is not the fault of any one student, administrator or teacher, but rather a shared lack of interest and responsibility.

But maybe the tide is beginning to shift.

In the past two months we have seen two Town Hall proposals: one deciding on a new voting system for Just Community elections and one changing the school’s chesed— community service — system.

There have also been two open Fairness hearings: about this year’s Fairness chair elections and the other about whether people should be able to vote in elections that do not affect them.

And last Thursday, a group of students and administrators met with Dr. Friedman to discuss bringing back the constitution in a revised form.

Two months is clearly just a small amount of time and we are aware that in any government, not just Shalhevet’s, new leadership often enacts swift change and then slowly retreats back to previous norms. Despite this, there is an intriguing surge of enthusiasm into our school’s core institutions.

We hope that this culture shift will continue into the next school year and after that. Perhaps we will look back at the end of this school year as the moment when the Just Community rises like a phoenix from the ashes of apathy.