Students present their ideas for improving Montgomery County education -- Gazette.Net


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From changing school start times to improving lunches, students have long held ideas for changes to improve their schools.

A forum at Roberto Clemente Middle School gave students a chance to not only say what they wanted changed but give the reasons behind their requests.

Destin McKinzy, 13, and De Angelo Thomas, 14, shared their ideas on school discipline at the Dec. 19 Education Forum attended by members of the Montgomery County School Board, educational administrators and Clemente faculty.

McKinzy and Thomas both suggested a student-run committee to make up school rules.

“Get some good students to make up the rules and have teachers approve [them],” De Angelo said.

The second annual Education Forum lasted most of the school day Dec. 19, with almost 200 eighth-graders offering ideas on any of 12 topics. Most students worked in teams of two to five members, researched their topic and created Power Point presentations. A few students chose to work alone, Krista McKim, the eighth-grade English teacher who started the forum last year, said in an email.

McKim wrote that she got the idea after reading about changing education paradigms and encouraging creativity in the classroom.

“They talked about how schools are killing creativity and how students need to learn to solve problems,” she wrote. The idea of the Education Forum came from that.”

School start time was by far the most popular topic presented, winning over the number two topic, bullying, two to one.

The students were in favor of more sleep in the morning, meaning a later start time for their school. They backed that idea up with statistics showing that teens need eight to nine hours of sleep per night.

More sleep leads to better grades, they said, because students are more alert and focused.

Amber Bratcher, 13, who spoke with three others about more healthy lunch choices, said she was nervous about speaking before the large group gathered in the school’s media center but thought her team did well.

“This is fabulous,” Principal Khadija Barkley said. “It makes their research authentic because there are people in decision-making positions that are listening to their point of view.”

The students also thought the idea of airing their opinions was a good one.

“If people come and listen to us maybe they will change the rules,” Destin said.