Today was a special day at Wheatley, for it was our 12th Annual Day of Service and Learning. Continuing a tradition that started in 2019, we kicked off the day with our Student Senate Forum prior to the community service activities.
Wheatley’s Student Senate Forum is designed to give students an opportunity to discuss controversial topics in a civil manner respectful of each other and each other’s views. This first Student Senate Forum was held in the wake of the Parkland Shooting, and our second Student Senate Forum was held prior to our previous Day of Service and Learning in 2019.
The Student Senate Forum is a student-planned and student-run event. It began with the selection of topics to consider in the forum. The following topics were presented:
- Climate Change and the Partisan Divide: Students will discuss how climate change has become so polarized, if taking action to curb our ecological footprint is more pressing than other issues, and the common ground between the two perspectives.
- Racism in America: A Present-Day Crisis or Problem of the Past? Students will discuss the perspective that calls for further action to address racism, and the perspective that sees racism as a problem of the past that has since been resolved.
- Vaccine Mandates: Public Health Necessity or Government Overreach? Students will discuss the conflicting views of protection of the general welfare compared to the infringement of individual constitutional rights.
- Microaggressions: Overreaction or Serious Damage? Students will discuss examples of microaggressions, and examine the view that claims of microaggressions are overreactions, as well as the view that these remarks and behaviors can cause substantial harm to individuals and society.
- Roe v. Wade in the New Millenium: Students will discuss why the 1973 Supreme Court decision has been controversial and important to many in the US, what some of the recent challenges to this ruling have been, and what the future might hold for Roe v. Wade.
- Afghanistan: Humiliating Defeat or Necessary Withdrawal? Students will discuss these two perspectives on the end of America’s longest war, and examine why this distinction matters.
- Policing In The United States: Students will discuss the different views of policing in the US, how policing has changed and what the future might hold for policing in the US.
- Electoral College: The US President is elected through the Electoral College. Students will discuss the way the system works as well as arguments in favor of keeping the system and arguments calling for it to change.
- American Views on Immigration: The United States is often described as a nation of immigrants. Students will discuss how views on immigration have changed over the past decade or so, what policies have been put in place, and what compromises could be enacted to address this critical issue.
- Drug Decriminalization: Reform or Danger? Students will review recent changes in our country’s drug laws, the implications of these changes, and the outlook in the years ahead.
- Senate Filibuster: Safeguarding the Minority or Stifling the Majority? Students will learn about the history of the filibuster, the impact it has had on our country, and whether the procedure should be maintained, eliminated or modified.
For each of these topics, groups of students worked together to develop a common presentation and discussion guide. As part of this process, students worked with faculty members to provide guidance and feedback. As students were working on their presentations, a survey was sent to all students asking them to select one of the aforementioned discussion topics. The number of concurrent sessions of each topic was dependent on student interest. In total, we had 25 different sessions related to these eleven topics.
The students involved were:
Climate Change and the Partisan Divide
- Group 1: Naman Chordia and John Cornacchia
- Group 2: Emmie Keys, Alex Ofsie and Kodi Triantafillou
Racism in America: A Present-Day Crisis or Problem of the Past?
- Group 1: Joyce Chen and Suhani Jain
- Group 2: Anushka Shorewala and Maryam Zakaria
- Group 3: Nike Oshodi and Emma Pak
Vaccine Mandates: Public Health Necessity or Government Overreach?
- Group 1: Ian Kim and Kristin Zachariah
- Group 2: Dylan Gidanian and Victoria Potrapeluk
- Group 3: Tyler Horowitz and Jacob Meirowitz
- Group 4: Andrew Kim and Bryan Schmuck
- Group 5: Lucas Schmuck and Kavin Shukla
- Group 6: Declan Brady and Raquel Tio
- Group 7: Asher Kaufman and Jace Yagoda
Microaggressions: Overreaction or Serious Damage?
- Group 1: Tobey Hirsch and Hasan Suleman
- Group 2: Nayiri Barton and Aisvaryaa Dhama
Roe v. Wade in the New Millenium
- Group 1: Mahdi Bhalloo, Steven Jarrahy and Jaina Shah
- Group 2: Ben Casella and Ethan Fitoussi
- Group 3: Allison Hackett and Caitlin O’Keefe
- Group 4: Michael Emouna and Ella Suppa
Afghanistan: Humiliating Defeat or Necessary Withdrawal?
- Group 1: Brandon Katz and Yan Jun Lin
- Group 2: Annelise Belle and Yusuf Zafar
Policing in the United States
- Group 1: Lana Cale and Maia Cale
- Group 1: Marjan Alagheband and Ainsley Forrest
American Views on Immigration
- Group 1: Kayla Kokura, Emma Novak, Liza Tsertsvadze and Derek Zhang
Drug Decriminalization: Reform or Danger?
- Group 1: Siddhi Jain, Caroline O’Brien, Vittoria Papa and Kate Seo
Senate Filibuster: Safeguarding the Minority or Stifling the Majority?
- Group 1: Grant Callahan and Lauren Hackett
It was truly a wonderful morning! I was so proud to see how these students organized themselves and their topics. The discussions were a model of civil discourse. It was wonderful to watch the student moderators lead discussions and encourage participation from a variety of viewpoints. Today was a reminder of the special nature of our school and students.
Special thanks to Dr. Alison Warner (our Student Senate Advisor), Mr. Wayne Jensen, (our Director of Social Studies and Real World Learning), and Ms. Alexis Pace (our Director of Science and High School Life) for their tremendous assistance in organizing the event and supporting the students. Thank you as well to the faculty members who so generously gave their time in support of our student presenters.