The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

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The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

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A call for trust and transparency

A new year constitutes new relationships and opportunities. With new changes and faces within our school it is the perfect time for this editorial board to address a lingering issue: The relationship between the students and administration and the necessity for transparency for the year ahead.

Last year, when hiring a new Head of School, all high school students received an email with the opportunity to attend lunch meetings with the final three candidates. At the end of each meeting, students were asked to complete surveys providing their feedback, which was said to be taken into consideration in the final decision. However, said students were not updated throughout the process, leading them to question whether their input was taken into consideration. Although we acknowledge that the Board of Trustees has been making Head of School selections this way successfully for a long time, this editorial board believes that there is always room for more significant student involvement.

A similar process was repeated for the hiring of Director of College Counselling and Academic advising. The current principal spent a significant time with the students involved at the end of the third meeting. However, there was little understanding as to how much these students truly impacted the process. While we commend the opportunity to involve students in these decisions, we hope in the search for a new principal, students will be further involved and updated throughout.

Asking students to meet with prospective head of schools and principals represents great progress, but it has seemed like only token meetings and not as if students’ thoughts were genuinely considered. These meetings felt somewhat perfunctory on the School’s behalf.

Students often spent more time meeting with the candidates than providing their own feedback to the decision makers. It seems as if students served more as an advertisement to the candidates that the school cares about student involvement in these decisions rather than the students genuinely contributing to the decisions.

With these select students it is important for the decision makers to not only attend the meetings with students and candidates and listen to their questions, but to also spend meaningful, organized time with that student group as a whole and individually. This could be as simple as one 30-minute meeting with the group separate from the lunch meetings and 10-minutes, if even, with individual students in the process.

It should not stop with just the dozen or so lucky students who met with the candidates. Obviously, not all students can attend these meetings, nor do all have the desire to. However, by allowing the students involved to advocate clearly and directly what they want from these positions would enable all students, or as many as interested, to contribute to the conversation. This is something that has not happened in previous searches or thus far in the search for principal.

We realize that we are not experienced talent evaluators. However, we are acutely aware that this school is meant to serve its students, so it only seems right that the current students of the school remain as involved as possible in deciding its direction.

This disconnect between the administration and student body does not only present itself in their obscure decision-making process, but also their inability to trust us. As a group of 15-18 year olds, we should be trusted to make certain decisions for ourselves and the High School environment. This issue presents itself in many facets of the school, from the overly strict gym usage policies, to the removal of welcoming events, such as Back to School Bash, without consultation. These may seem like trivial things to be angry about, but they represent the larger belief that we, as high school students, can’t handle simple things on our own.

In addition, students are frequently encouraged to draft proposals for projects or provide suggestions for spaces or areas where they have ideas for improvements. Most recently, a proposal was drafted by last year’s Ecology class to create a garden behind the Community Arts building. After multiple meetings and readjustments, it seems as if the proposal was lost in the dust of other plans and projects, with little explanation as to why. In order for students to be encouraged to suggest changes they wish to see in their school, it is essential the administration be thorough and constructive in their feedback and provide recognition and follow through with student’s ideas.

The editorial board believes the administration needs to communicate their process for coming to these decisions with the student population, beyond the representatives of the Student Council. We hope, after hearing our concerns and requests, the administration is able to consider the students more in future impactful decisions.

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