by Dakota Antelman
Marco Rodrigues, in one of his first acts as superintendent, offered 12 students a seat on a new Superintendent Advisory Committee that encourages and facilitates student involvement in the district’s decision-making processes.
Meeting monthly at Hudson High School, the committee includes representatives from grades 7-12 and has already addressed issues ranging from the quality of cafeteria food to the possibility of a study hall for all grades.
“We want them to be part of the solution and perhaps better understand the process,” Rodrigues said of the group and the motivations behind its formation. “Sometimes, if there’s a problem, people will say nothing is being done. But, sometimes, nothing is being done because we can’t fix something now, but we can fix it in January, or it is something that we’re already talking about in the budget process.”
After discussing the idea during public interviews with the School Committee in March, Rodrigues solidified plans for the committee over the summer. He asked principals to select students for his committee who would not otherwise be involved in such a program.
From there, Hudson High School Principal Brian Reagan said he consulted with the school’s guidance counselors to identify students within each grade that fit that profile.
“[We were looking for] different types of students who may have an interest in leadership but maybe wouldn’t have run for student government or did run and showed interest but didn’t get elected,” he said. “There are a number of kids who, we think, maybe if we tap them, they might be good in that setting.”
In addition to the superintendent and the students chosen to advise him, HHS Assistant Principal Dan McAnespie has attended the committee’s first two meetings to potentially allow HHS administration to solve issues.
“Issues are raised, and we’re able to hear them first hand and see if we can’t address some of those issues or move them on to the Community Council,” Reagan said.
Already two meetings into their schedule, the committee will meet six more times before the end of the school year. As student representatives approach those meetings, Rodrigues said, they decide which issues get discussed.
“They need to go out and talk to other students about things,” he said. “Then whatever issues they want to bring to the table, they bring that and populate the agenda.”
Before the committee can gather those student concerns, however, Rodrigues and members agreed, it must focus on informing students that it exists.
“We don’t have the means yet to focus on getting the word out,” said senior representative Garet Mildish. “The thought was to use social media and, more importantly, to use posters which would have all of our emails so that you could contact members about an issue that you have. But we’re working on that.”
After just over one quarter of the school year, members and administrators are excited about the committee’s potential. As it continues to take shape, however, students say they are eager to see results, and administrators say they are looking forward to the new perspective students can provide on aspects of the Hudson Public Schools’ operation.
“When they have ideas, how can those ideas be incorporated into something that maybe the adults didn’t think of but the kids thought about,” Rodrigues said. “That is the kind of input that I want to see happening.”