Small Learning Communities (SLC) are an integral component in maintaining the diverse range of educational opportunities offered to students at Berkeley High School (BHS). With this difference in interests and learning opportunities, it is imperative that voices from each SLC are heard and advocated for on a school-wide level. The SLC representative system should be reintroduced to Associate Student Body (ASB) Leadership in order to include more small school perspectives in the dialogue surrounding school-wide operations, projects, and issues.
This representative system was orchestrated on ASB Leadership a few years ago, albeit briefly. One to two representatives from the Arts & Humanities Academy (AHA), Communication Arts & Sciences (CAS), and the Academy of Medicine & Public Service (AMPS) were recruited to serve in the student senate. However, recruitment was a challenge, and the responsibilities and tasks of these new SLC representatives were unclear. This eventually led to the termination of the program following the 2014-15 school year.
If SLC representatives were reintroduced into ASB Leadership, and more time was invested into creating a structured program, these representatives would be able to bring much more to the team. A weekly or biweekly report from SLC representatives on current events in their community, along with their unique challenges and attempts to respond to these issues, would be a good starting point. This system holds potential for a better exchange of ideas and resources, and the possibility of many more in-depth projects, fundraisers, events, and workshops.
The challenges facing each small school vary, and the representative system would ensure that the needs of these communities are not sidelined. Bringing fresh perspectives to ASB Leadership would be mutually beneficial. Representatives would be able to participate in senate meetings after gathering information from their SLCs, guaranteeing that those voices are part of the conversation. In turn, the representatives would gain insight on projects in the works, and larger school-wide issues. Conversely, shared issues such as the awkwardness and confusion of distance learning could be tackled hand in hand.
Darya Massih, a sophomore in CAS and a member of the CAS Leadership Team, has worked closely to organize events and tackle issues within her SLC. Massih said, “There has been a lack of representation of people of color as teachers in CAS and I think talking about that with the ASB Leadership Team could be helpful.”
Without appointed representatives to share these concerns with ASB, it becomes difficult for a smaller school such as CAS to reach a larger audience such as the school board and our school administrators. Each small school has a valuable perspective that shouldn’t be excluded from the decision-making process.
Without an incentive for collaboration, the representative system lacks a foundation to thrive upon. Creating collaborative work opportunities between the SLCs would encourage engagement and progress. Whether it is a student bill of rights, Spirit Week, or even a simple fundraiser, facilitating these outlets to work toward a common purpose could serve to bridge the gap between the insular groups at BHS. The representative program is capable of resolving the unnecessary rivalry and disconnection between SLCs, serving to promote schoolwide unity.
While reverting to this system would require some re-organization and a bit of creative thinking, the benefits would be substantial. It would increase dialogue, helping each community understand what is happening in the parallel universes each SLC represents. During this time of uncertainty and disconnect, the representative system would be more useful than ever in helping navigate the difficulties surrounding distance learning. The isolation brought upon by the coronavirus is creating a feeling of disconnect, and working towards common goals will foster a more unified environment. ASB could then pool their resources, working together on both common issues and on problems unique to certain programs in order to advance the interests of all BHS students.