Council Update

By Jennie Frishtick and Carl Tischbein 
Council has been extremely busy lately, working on some motions which could have powerful effects throughout the school. Below are some brief summaries of what we’ve been doing.
100 Point GPA Motion: A few weeks back, a motion was brought to Council to change the current 4 point GPA scale (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc) to a 100 point GPA scale (60, 70, 80, 90, etc). Both sides of the argument presented important issues including teacher responsibility, grade ‘nit-picking’, and more. After a thorough debate, the motion failed.
Bylaw Revisions: For the past few weeks, Council has been working on updating the Bylaws–the document that contains all the rules and operating procedures of Council. The Bylaws are updated annually, and the changes this year reflected general accuracy and small updates and additions. The changes were brought forth by the Organizational Engineering Committee (OEC), and after two weeks of discussion, the updated version of the Bylaws were approved.
Guidance Counselor Evaluation Motion: As it currently stands, students complete evaluations of their academic teachers in each class, giving feedback that helps teachers make changes and improvements in their classes. Seeing that there was no way to do the same for Guidance counselors, a motion was brought to Council to distribute such a survey annually to the senior class. A draft of the survey was presented, and Council referred the motion to the Organizational Engineering Committee (OEC) to edit and revise the drafted survey before bringing it back to Council. There was also discussion of creating evaluations for each grade to complete, not solely the senior class. OEC will look into that as well and bring the motion back to Council in the coming weeks.
Common Ground/Council Switch Motion: A motion was brought to Council to move Common Ground to Friday (during what is now activity period) and Council to Thursday (at the same time it is now — 4th period).  This switch would make it much easier for Council members to give Council updates to their Common Grounds, as CG would take place the day after Council, as opposed to almost a full week later (which is the present set-up). Logistically, this might cause some problems: First, it may be difficult for students to focus on Common Ground on a Friday. Secondly, there are part-time teachers who do not work on Fridays, so they would no longer be able to take part in Common Ground. It is also possible that this switch would result in a greater number of student absences due to long weekends and other conflicts. This motion was referred to the Student Life Committee for further investigation, and will be brought back to Council in the coming weeks.
X-Day Motion: This motion – stating the need for at least two X-periods per month in any given class (with exceptions for shortened months due to vacation, etc.) – was brought to Council a few weeks ago, and then referred to the Curriculum Committee. After doing some research,  Curric brought the motion back to Council who ultimately failed the motion. The Curriculum Committee had looked into the definition of an X-period and gotten feedback from each department. Through their research and Council’s discussion, a few problems surrounding the motion came up: First, X-periods are given to enable students to ask questions or to ask for extra help, but there are some classes – certain math classes, for example – in which there is built-in time each day to go over homework and answer all questions, and therefore no need for a weekly, or even bi-weekly X-period. Second, this motion would not apply to all classes. CAPPS, for example, has few to no X-periods during first semester in order to allow time second semester to work on a long-term project. (Class time second semester is comprised mostly of work periods). Also, there is no clear definition of an X-period, which results in differing opinions in how X-periods should be regulated. It is clear, though, that X-periods are “instructional time,” for use at the teacher’s discretion. Students need to be aware of the fact that X-periods are not automatically free time for their own use. Another discussion point from the meeting that should be considered is X-periods’ overall role at HHS: due to the absence of a lunch period, having X-periods doesn’t only give students a chance to catch up on missing assignments–they give students a chance to unwind by providing “balance” during the school day.  Although the motion was eventually failed, Council hopes that it can still serve its original purpose: to raise awareness of the need for X-periods, and to spread the understanding that X-periods are instructional time.

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