Council Passes X-Period Motion – Council Update (04/04/2018)

The highly debated X-Period Standardization Motion was the big ticket issue at this past week’s Council meeting, but before diving into debate, Moderator Aisling Kelly gave a quick update. Moderator Kelly reminded Council members that the Naturalization Ceremony taking place at HHS would be on April 10th, and that 41 countries will be represented at the ceremony. Mod. Kelly also added that she hopes such ceremonies become a yearly occurrence at HHS. Next on the agenda was the X-Period Standardization Motion.

The discussion began where it left off the week before: the discussion of an amendment that would cut out the requirement for teachers to let kids with above a 60% grade in the class to leave halfway through an X period (and if the amendment were to pass there would also be no requirement for teachers to allow any students to leave during X-periods). Freshman Representative Ellie Stannard began the discussion by saying that she thought such a requirement might be an issue because some teachers at HHS have adopted a four point scale. Junior Representative Elizabeth Napier followed this up by saying that she thinks as long as students are passing a class, the school community doesn’t have the right to tell kids what they should be getting, so for that reason 60% was the only reasonable standard. Assistant Moderator Jasper Meyer had a different take on the issue, saying that Council should care less about a percentage needed to leave but rather about the overall attitude of students; that they always want to leave during X’s. AMOD Meyer then went on to say that X periods should be and are for focusing on the class at hand, not leaving and attending to other matters.

Co-Treasurer Colm Seigne continued the contentious debate surrounding the minimum grade requirement by saying that he thinks teachers should be able to decide what a satisfactory grade is in their class and that teachers should have discretion over whether or not to let their students leave. Sophomore Representative Clay Kynor agreed with Seigne in that teachers should have more discretion over whether or not kids can leave during X’s and that in general kids are too focused on leaving the classroom rather than gaining value from the period. As Council seemed ready to vote on the amendment, Freshman Representative Sage McGinley-Smith said that Council must add another provision if they passed the amendment because otherwise the motion would be meaningless. After Rep. McGinley-Smith’s input, Council quickly passed the amendment but did not add any other provision, meaning the motion then did not require teachers to allow any students to leave during X periods, leaving it fully up to the teacher’s discretion.

Council then went into a more general discussion surrounding the motion. Junior Representative Oliver Minshall said that he thinks there are some classes that are so rigorous that there should be a new lesson every day, and thus it shouldn’t be mandatory for every class to have an X. After some more discussion Council seemed ready to close debate. Before that happened, Spanish Teacher Eric Picconi (Profe) gave an impassioned statement detailing his opinions on X’s. Profe said that he wants to be with his students every day and that a required X-period would make him lose valuable time with students. Profe then added that he was totally against the motion and that he liked the current wording of the handbook, which leaves X’s up to the teacher’s discretion. Once Profe finished, Council closed debate and went into voting. Despite 5 abstentions and 4 opposing votes, the motion passed.

Afterwards, Teacher Representative Mr. Gentine discussed how he abstained because he was confused about what the motion actually did. After some clarification, it was evident that the motion would only require teachers to not give homework on the day of an X-period, but that there was no requirement for teachers to allow students to leave. Junior Representative Romaney Granizo-Mackenzie added that she abstained because there are only humanities teachers on Council and that she wanted to hear STEM teachers give their opinions on the motion and X-periods in general. Council then moved on to the next and last item of discussion: the vision of a graduate.

Moderator Kelly summed up for Council members that the vision of a graduate should show how the school and students want to see hearts, minds, and voices be applied after kids graduate from HHS. Principal Campbell followed this up by saying that HHS must have a well articulated vision of a graduate for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and that it should state clearly what the HHS community wants its graduates to achieve.

AMOD Meyer said that not everyone should end up at the same place but that there are some qualities that every graduate should have. Teacher Representative Ms. Ceplikas added that the vision of a graduate should highlight the things that make Hanover High School unique in terms of the country, with the main unique thing being that HHS is a democratic school. Rep. McGinley-Smith followed this up by saying that the school can’t expect everyone to end up in the same place and that the school should instead should focus on the process of the education, not necessarily the end result. Moderator Kelly ended the discussion and the meeting by saying that at HHS there is really only a focus on the “minds” part of the mission statement, while the “hearts and voices” parts are somewhat forgotten about but something which must be further discussed.

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