Ghost town hall

Student Government Association remains optimistic, aims high despite low forum turnout


Sam Donnell '18

SGA Co-Presidents Abby Barton ‘18 (far right) and Helen Laboe ‘18 (second from left) lead the first town hall on Oct. 17, with the help of SGA Overall Secretary Grace Goodall ‘18 (second from right) and SGA Overall Treasurer Teresa Vergara-Miranda ‘18 (far left).

Lane Kizziah '18, Managing Editor

Walking into the sparsely-filled South Cafeteria during last Tuesday’s AcLab, students were greeted by Student Government Association officers as they called the handful of students to order.

“Now we’re going to open this up to a more formal town hall,” said SGA Co-President Abby Barton ‘18 during the forum. “We want to encourage you to lodge any sort of complaints, give us compliments, or ask us about anything important that is going on. We’re going to send your questions to the administration or just try to help you however we can.”

This was the first of the Student Government Association’s new town hall initiative.

“We’re trying to hold [the town halls] consistently the first AcLab of the third week of every month in the [South Cafeteria],” said Barton. “We think it’s very important for students to be able to come to us to voice their concerns because there’s been incidents in the past where students have had issues with how administration has handled certain situations, or not handled certain situations, and we want to be the conduit between the students and the administration in larger matters.”
This idea comes after members of the Student Government have seen their peers struggle with a myriad of difficult circumstances.

“There have been some students – whether it’s based on race or gender – who’ve felt like they’ve been discriminated against or they have problems with certain policies of the administration,” said SGA Co-President Helen Laboe ‘18. “We hope to show these problems to admin and try to find a way to fix them.”

The meeting began with school updates and transitioned into a forum for questions.

“As it seems you guys are the only ones here,” said Barton, addressing the six sophomores at the back of the room, “do you have any questions for the sophomore representatives?”

After taking questions, one thing was clear; Eagle Lab remains a topic of contention.

“We don’t have any control over Feelings Friday,” said Barton. “It seems to be an initiative the administration would like to stick with if it seems beneficial. We’ve had tons of feedback from students and teachers but nothing so far from the administration.”

While there are sentiments on each side, the majority of comments received by members of Student Government seem to be negative.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about Feelings Friday or Eagle Lab,” said Sophomore Press Secretary Jack O’Leary ‘20. “Some of my friends and teachers have been telling me they’d like to be able to structure their own time.”

Members of SGA admit there are kinks that to be worked out but remain optimistic about the new program.

“I think the first town hall went okay,” said O’Leary. “We didn’t advertise very much; we didn’t have very many posters and it wasn’t on the announcements, so people probably didn’t know where or when it was. It was hard to get emails out to the student body because there’s a lot of steps for administration’s approval. I want to make it a little more organized next time. I hope we can be a little more prepared with a plan of what we’re going to talk about. But overall, I think it was a good first start.”

The low turnout may be a result of schedule changes and miscommunication.

“It was a pretty small turnout,” said Laboe. “We were originally trying to hold [the town halls] on the first AcLab of every month, but there was a scheduling conflict. We also wanted a better room, like an auditorium, because that would be better than the cafeteria, but because there’s so much going on this was the only place and time we could be guaranteed consistently by the administration.”

One cause of these issues may be a lack of communication with the school’s administration. This year, the school has decided to alter the means of communication used by Student Government.

“We don’t talk directly to administration,” said Laboe. “We now have a sponsor, which we didn’t have last year. Now, we talk to the sponsor, who then talks to the administration. We still talk to them, but it isn’t as close as it was last year.”

This change is predicted to increase the efficiency of the organization and streamline the way things get done.

“We are going to get all of the information on a regular basis,” said Assistant Principal Therese Plunkett. “It’s going to centralize how we communicate by telling all of us at the same time.”

Both the administration and members of SGA are confident that this will improve the group’s efficiency.
“I think [the new communication system] is going to work better,” said Laboe. “It got confusing with so many people to talk to, so we’re hoping this works better.”

This is just one of several new changes SGA is planning on implementing this school year.

“I’m excited about a lot of the ideas we have for the year,” Laboe said, “It’s going to be hard to execute everything we want to do, but I think we’re taking some good steps.”

One of the largest goals that SGA has this year is to increase the level of school spirit.

“We’re trying to ramp up school spirit this year,” said Laboe. “I know this is something SGA says every year, but this year we’re trying new things: trying to get more students invested in the sports teams, we’re writing a fight song, we’re going to have a pep band at games.”

There is desire to increase the amount of involvement across the school, not just in terms of sports.

“We’d like to do a mural project.” said Barton. “We have no concrete plans for this yet but it’s one of my personal goals this year.”