Theory to Practice: Student Government in Action
Anyone who’s witnessed the faculty, staff, and students at work at The Study Academy know that civic engagement has always been a priority. The inherent value of caring, both in the school and in the wider community, is always readily apparent at 20 Glebe Road. It’s a value that the students exercise all the time. This is true with the everyday stuff, like opening the door for a teacher or demonstrating co-operation in classwork. But it’s also true when it comes to bigger projects, such as when the students donate canned goods at local food drives and help build houses in South America. They’re citizens of their school, their city, and the globe.
Recognizing how much of this natural ability and overflowing enthusiasm exists, our teachers have built a foundation of knowledge for students to reach their civic goals. Rob Webster’s grade 10 Civics class has learnt the ins and out of Canadian government across its various levels and branches. Out of this, students realize that every part of political networks matter, that their participation has ripple effects. But that knowledge hasn’t just come from textbooks — it’s also come from amazing real-life opportunities. Take last year, when Senator Linda Frum visited the school, passing on her extensive experiences with legislative processes. From that, students learned just how difficult decisions can be: how trying it can be to find consensus in times of disagreement, how many obstacles emerge when trying to organize a large body of individuals. But they also learned just how rewarding it can be to arrive at decisions that directly affect the lives of people you care about.
With that in mind, The Study Academy has founded their very own student government! Those who witnessed it observed how carefully-orchestrated this process was from the get-go. Even before campaigning took place, students deliberated and discussed what kind of electoral process would be the fairest and most democratic form. They illustrated their tact and detail-oriented thinking, using information they had learned in their Civics class. And what they came up with worked beautifully — they opted for the precise system of preferential balloting. The students loved that they were able to rank their choices, and it was an ingenious idea.
It was a hard fought campaign with four students vying for the support of their peers. And their rigour and determination lead to happy results. After the ballots were counted, the results showed that Amanda and Salum would share responsibilities as co-presidents, Aiden would proudly represent the grade 9’s, and Michael would take on the task of grade 10 representative. Each member is determined to give a voice to the students of The Study Academy and to get to work on important initiatives.
And looking back, the Council didn’t waste any time! They’ve already set several items in motion that each foster active awareness, culture, fun, and student cohesion. Thanks to their efforts, art club runs every Monday night, an intramural sports league takes place every Thursday morning, and a video game club meets on Wednesdays after school. Illustrating an extra degree of creativity, the Council even got the ball rolling on a real-life sleuth game for Halloween. They devised an elaborate detective story in which middle school students dawned detective hats, and solved the spooky mystery of the missing passenger on a cursed cruise liner. School Principal, Jason Krell couldn’t help but remark on how “very well done” it was. And with more fun theme days on the Council agenda, we’re bound to see more and more thinking outside the box from our Study Academy students.
But the plans don’t stop there. Co-president Amanda, who is proud to be the female student on Council, wants to extend The Study Academy’s legacy of environmental consciousness, which she’ll achieve by encouraging recycling and composting. She also wants to serve as a guide on an academic level because, as she puts it, “as one of the older students of The Study I feel that I have a lot to offer to both students and the school as a whole.” She wants any younger students to know that, since she has taken a large number of the courses that The Study Academy offers, she is “more than willing to take some time and sit down with [students] if they ever are in need or struggling in a certain class.” That’s her way of demonstrating what she believes are two of the most important leadership skills: passion and compassion. With her balance of curricular focus and care toward her fellow students on a personal level, she is sure to make The School proud.