Reporting by Leah Raymond (’22)
The Student Senate is a group of student leaders throughout the International Academy coming together to discuss the ways in which the community can work together to make the IA a happier and healthier environment for the student body.
- A positive climate and culture
- Student leadership supporting other leadership efforts
- Supporting student successes
- Building an inclusive community of global leaders
- Respect others’ opinions, speech, and ideas
- Listen with the intent of listening rather than just hearing
- Be open to collaboration and positivity
- Represent authentic IA student perspectives
The Student Senate was posed various questions to begin the discussion about building a better IA community. Below are the various questions, including some student-brainstormed answers.
What challenges do we face at the IA, and what do we hope to get from and give to this group?
- Cathy Shan hoped to grow a stronger community by connecting upper- and lower- classmen
- Sophie Fischer noted that the IA faces the challenge of accessible resources for students
- Declan Tulley expressed the desire to have a better understanding of what students can do to improve their learning experiences
- Charlotte Gibson compared the IA students to ducks on water – seemingly gliding across the top, but paddling hard underneath the surface
- Micah Anderson wanted to see more genuine conversations between students about prevalent issues
How will the culture of the building look and feel as a result of our time together?
- The students expressed the desire for everyone to be able to get involved in something at the IA. They hoped to encourage more participation and more collaboration both between and within grades, including providing opportunities to meet new people. This would also manifest as increased unification within and between grade levels, such as an increased Peer Corps presence.
- The students also wanted to focus on helping people succeed at the IA by decreasing toxic competition and encouraging more positive competition. They also hoped to target the stress, which is so bad that “you can smell it” (Quinn Todd). Furthermore, they emphasized the importance of mental health both in the classroom and between students, such as teachers encouraging human worth and students breaking away from cliques.
- Micah Anderson pointed out that it is a wonderful thing that the IA is a “loud school” – the hallways are never silent, and people are not afraid to stand up for what they believe. The students wanted to encourage more of these honest conversations between students, making the IA more open and discussion-based.
- The students hoped to see a more positive IA community, fueled by school beautification on the outside and reviving the IA pride and culture on the inside.
If you were ten times bolder, what big idea would you recommend? What first step would you take to get started?
In the order of popularity:
- Restructuring the seminar and house systems
- Encouraging underclassmen participation and inter-grade collaboration
- IA clubs working together to build each other up
- Inter-class competitive events
- IA mission statement pep assembly
- “Showing off” the IA to incoming freshmen
- Common schedule for club meetings
- Class bonding event in addition to Olympics
- Implementing monthly asynchronous days
- Mentorship program pairing freshmen with juniors and sophomores with seniors
- Students contribution bulletin board
- More organized fun trips
- An Olympics budget for each class
- A zen-garden or greenhouse
- Place for students to hang out
- Painting new murals in the hallways
Logistical questions going forward
How often and for how long do we meet?
- This remains undetermined at the moment, but some ideas were meeting twice a month for an hour and a half, meeting for three hours every six weeks, and having frequent small committee meetings.
What is the structure of the group?
- This remains undetermined at the moment, but some ideas were having no set leadership in the whole group, setting up smaller committees, and requiring a ⅔ majority to pass any vote.
How do we communicate with students who are not part of the group?
- Promoting and advertising, having public meeting notes, setting up an anonymous confessions/concerns box, including five minutes on the group during seminars, and creating a bulletin board.
What is the meeting structure?
- This remains undetermined at the moment, but some ideas were reflecting and checking in as a whole team, breaking off into committees, discussing only one issue at once, and preparing an agenda carefully beforehand to adhere to.
How do we tie our work into the entire IA community – parents, staff, and home districts?
- Hosting events for families, having student ambassadors to home-district school boards to advocate for the IA, taking trips to the middle schools, and sending surveys to the community.
The Student Senate’s next meeting is yet to be determined.