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Seriously examining student voice

Students need to take full advantage of all present forums for student voice and be given more opportunities in determining the direction of the Malvern experience.

Malvern is at a crucial point in its history. Almost every day it seems like decisions are being made that are shaping the direction of the school. Students must have a valued and respected opinion in these decisions. Students play an integral role in daily campus life and will offer perspectives that teachers, administrators, alumni, and donors cannot.

In the past four years since the current seniors were freshman, we have moved away from traditional education into a hotly-debated 21st century learning style. We meant student-centered learning. Or project-based learning. We aren’t really sure what it’s called these days.

We cannot even begin to argue for more student voice, if we do not utilize the few opportunities we are given.

We got rid of our library. We became a tobacco-free campus. We ended the 9/11 ceremony tradition. We became totally Google-dependent. We unleashed a diversity initiative aimed at 20% racial diversity for the student body in 2019. We developed new building plans.

Administrators like Mr. Ron Algeo and Mr. Tim Dougherty do a great job of being available for students to voice their opinions. However, nearly every member of our Editorial Board believes that student input on serious topics related to our learning is seldom seriously considered.

There have been instances recently where student voice could have helped make administrative decisions – such as the booking of speakers, especially when controversial, like Jason Evert. Or when Malvern decided to change to diet sodas. Or when Malvern decided entrepreneurship should be incorporated into the curriculum. Or when Malvern considers how successful project-based learning is in implementation. Or when Malvern considers eliminating APs. Or when Malvern considers contract grading. Or inevitably when a transgender teacher or student wants to enter the Malvern community.

Currently, students have a few forums for student voice – limited mostly to Student Council, and this very paper.

The Blackfriar Chronicle is a great forum for student expression, but we aren’t close to perfect.

We hope more members of the community join conversations through letters to the editors, online comments, pitching ideas to our staff, or even joining us. Additionally, we will work to follow through with our proposals when our Editorial Board makes recommendations for the community.

Each month, we publish this column that is a collection of voices from a diverse group of students, yet we have rarely initiated change. We are working to make sure the monthly editorial is more than just a discussion starter.

Student Council is a great platform for direct student involvement in decisions. However, for the success of Student Council, students need to take it more seriously.

 

2015 Student Council Candidate Speeches

In recent years, the Student Council speeches have been the primary factor for students to decide on a candidate. Unfortunately, that forum was best described by current Vice President Ted Holleran in his speech who welcomed the Duffy audience to “The Malvern Prep Funniest Speech Contest.”

Brothers, we need to act with more responsibility. We should be electing a candidate based off of their ideas about the school and their merits to be a representative leader for the entire student body.

We cannot even begin to argue for more student voice, if we do not utilize the few opportunities we are given.

In addition, we propose that Student Council speeches should be replaced with a debate hosted by The Blackfriar Chronicle. In the real world, it is the function of the media to hold the government accountable. We think it would be beneficial for the students to hear the positions of the candidates on various Malvern-related issues.

There are other ways that the Student Council President should be involved in our community. He should be given a non-voting role for the Board of Trustees meetings. While some information is confidential and we understand he cannot be privied to that information, it is highly possible that he could be allowed for parts of the meeting. It would add an incredibly important dynamic to the Board of Trustees for feedback, but also give him an official forum to execute his role.

As millennials we are too often cast to the general mold of social media-absorbed teens without any care for the world around us – politically, religiously, or otherwise. We need to demonstrate that not only do we care, but we are willing to fight for it too.

If Malvern is truly embracing a student-centered approach, we need to demonstrate that we have the maturity to understand the most important asset we have: our voice.

As journalists, we have learned there are always multiple perspectives to a story.

The students’ perspective is as necessary as any other while Malvern writes its future.

 


 

EDITORS’ NOTE: How the Editorial Board Works

The Editorial Board is the student voice of the publication.  

The unsigned editorial that appears on page 2 of The Blackfriar Chronicle each month is not an anonymous column. It represents the consensus of the entire editorial board.

As a team, we agree and stand behind every word.  

The Editorial Board is a group of students composed of The Blackfriar Chronicle editors-in-chief, managing editors, chief investigative reporter, section editors, social media editor, podcast editor, a representative of the freshman class, and a representative from the Diversity Awareness Club. The group is meant to include a group of different students so all opinions and voices can be heard.

The group chooses a topic and forms a unified opinion about the selected topic for each issue of The Blackfriar Chronicle. Usually the topics chosen concern pressing and controversial topics within the Malvern community; however the Board is not limited to selecting topics that fit this description. We appreciate suggestions for topics from any member of the Malvern community.

After a draft has been reviewed by all members of the Editorial Board, the Board may reconvene to reach full consensus.  If consensus cannot be reached, the column must either express this dissent in an agreeable form to all Board members, or a separate dissenting opinion may be developed.  

Once the column is acceptable to all Board members, the column is published as an unsigned editorial.

The adviser is allowed to attend the meetings for supervision and guidance purposes, however the adviser does not contribute opinions or influence the members of the Editorial Board.  The column truly represents student voice and consensus.

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2 comments

  1. Very few school seek the opinions of students. Do not take for granted the power of your voice. If it’s not your voice they hear collectively as the student body, then it will be the parents, or the teachers, or the Alumni. Find your power, find your voice in getting the best education and experience you can from Malvern Prep.

  2. Brendan O'Connor '15

    Top notch work as always. While students may not have the voice they want on specific issues, they have a lot more than most think. In addition to being a participant (regrettably not a winner) in the funniest speech contest, I was on Student Council for two years. During many of the meetings, Mr. Valyo would stop in to get student opinions on specific issues. In addition to that, I was part of a group of students that were asked a series of questions (I honestly forget who it was, but they weren’t board members, teachers, or alums) about our experience and what we would like to see from the school in the future. Throughout my four years, teachers seemed very receptive about student feedback. While I acknowledge these avenues definitely have their limits, they have some power. On a side note, eliminating AP classes is a terrible idea. Thanks to APs, I entered BC with credit for Calculus (thanks Mr. Moore), Stat (thanks Mrs. Lesch), and both Micro and Macro (thanks Johnny Econ). As always, great day to be a Friar.

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