Council Moderator Farewell Letter
The 2015-16 Council year came to a close on Wednesday, May 18th, followed by the immediate turnaround to new leadership and new members. With the end of the year, comes an opportunity to reflect on the changes the Council made and the efforts that were taken to accomplish our goals.
This year, Council strove to be more active, accessible and accountable.
Not only in number of motions, but in discussions with many different people within and outside of meetings, I am proud of how active Council was this year. It was an honor to work with such a motivated group of leadership: my ever-helpful A-Mod, Isaac Jacobs, Mae Butler, Connor Stafford, Lilly Cadow, Henry Lang, and the wonderful new Exec, Madame Doyle.
We entered each meeting with a tight agenda stacked with varied and important motions:
We passed a recommendation for the Underclassmen Awards Ceremony to be altered in ways that allow the ceremony to focus more on honoring each student and less on guessing which student is winning the award. This idea was sparked by a Nick Beard Opinion Board letter by Marion Umpleby. At the ceremony this year, you will hear names read before the awards are described and will see a few additional awards, for example one focused on recognizing extracurricular activities at HHS.
The largest motion, both in length and impact, we discussed this year was the Gender Motion. With the first few sections already passed, and the next few still awaiting discussion, this motion strives to make the school more inclusive regarding gender identity. The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recently released guidance to help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students, and the recommended language matches the motion brought to us by Lilly Cadow impressively well.
Other motions discussed this year include a very fun Grill motion (passed) , a Late Start Time recommendation (failed), a Freshmen Off-Campus 4th Quarter motion (passed, but vetoed), and a motion limiting Athletics over Break (passed but vetoed; Mr. Campbell, following the spirit of our initial motion, is going to implement a more stringent possible). Some motions focused on making changes that help the handbook reflect our current practice, such as the Restorative Justing (renamed Restorative Practices) motion. This motion expands the use of RP process beyond the Academic Integrity Policy to the Code of Conduct. Similarly the HHS Dance motion better reflects current practice in the the enforcement of behavior guidelines at school dances. A few motions also improve current practice, such as the Doctor’s Note motion, which permits a student who has a doctor’s appointment to participate in athletics if class is missed to attend an appointment.
With the Council meeting in an activity period that everyone can attend and a Public Relations officer who got the word out through the bulletin board, facebook, and forums, Council was very accessible this year. We received many emails from alumni of HHS and parents of HHS Students and had many visitors at our meetings, including a group from BHS who wants to found a Council modeled after ours.. As Council continues to become more accessible and Council members spread the word and seek more feedback, I want to continue to encourage every member of HHS to attend a Council meeting at some point in their time at the school. Council is here to serve you and best help all of us improve the school community.
In regards to accountability, Council started off the 2015-16 school year by cleaning up the process from past years and searching for an organized system to simplify the process. The very first steps were moving Judiciary Committee elections to the fall in order to better match the current practice to our bylaws and asking the school community to demand a report from Common Ground Council representative. With the help of the Broadside, though not always pleasant, the process of producing minutes each week and updating the website and bylaws was monitored more closely this year in order to improve Council’s transparency. With the tremendous efforts of OEC and our secretary, Lilly Cadow, and the push from the Broadside, the minutes were available at least 24 hours before each Council meetings, which was a large improvement from past years. Each step towards a more accountable Council requires the effort of all members involved, and it was a great joy to work with a Council that wanted to make changes to clean up the process of each discussion and motion and helping Council find its rhythm.
This year we made many large steps towards becoming a more active, accessible and accountable Council, and my hopes for the future are that Council keeps these goals, as they are the perfect guideline goals.
Thank you for such a wonderful year, Council 2015-16, and best of luck in the future! Don’t forget- Council is really only what you make of it.