Many Pioneer students do not feel a strong bond with the school’s student council; it has an almost unnoticeable presence in the Pioneer community aside from the Academic Awards Ceremony, school dances, and frequent bake sales. Despite their limited presence at Pioneer, the student council, or rather, one person, is responsible for one thing that many seniors take an interest in: the class president speech.
Students are appointed to the student council by going through an interview process with several teachers. The nearly 100 individuals appointed to the student council are allowed to vote on the senior class president, who is also the president of student council. Last year, less than a third of the members of student council showed up to the meeting where the 2017 student council officers were elected. This is an incredibly small amount of people putting in the effort to vote for something that will have a lasting impact on Pioneer.
The class president gives a speech at commencement, which people will look back on years later. The class president is also responsible for planning class reunions, so the position really does go beyond the president’s time at Pioneer.
The seniors who show up to their last senior class meeting get to vote for a staff member to speak at their commencement ceremony. They do not, however, get to vote for a member of their own class to speak at their commencement, because that honor is awarded to the student council president from the student council. If seniors voted for the student council president, it would ensure that this speech is given by someone the majority of those who voted chose.
Some claim that students should not choose the senior class president because it would be a popularity contest, rather than the best person for the job, but that is exactly what the vote for staff member graduation speaker is — a “popular” teacher is selected. Just as no individual has met every teacher in Pioneer, no student has met every person in his or her grade. If all this is going to be is a popularity contest, then let the graduating class decide who they want to hear speak at their own graduation.
With the rise of healthy eating campaigns, like First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move,” many schools have removed sweets from the vending machines. Schools should put sweets back into vending machines because students should be able to make their own decisions about what they eat while they’re at school. In the Fall of 2014, The Ann Arbor Public Schools decided to take action against obesity, and got rid of all sugary and unhealthy food that was sold in the vending machines and the school store. Now, all snacks are replaced with healthier, but less tasty, alternatives. This includes items such as Baked Lays and sugar free ice cream sandwiches. If Pioneer and other schools are trying to teach kids to eat a balanced diet, instead of forcing them to eat “healthy,” they should educate students about moderation and offer choices, not just take choices away. By taking away unhealthy foods at schools, they do not allow students to make informed choices and teach themselves to eat wisely.
What’s more, the school should not be able to decide what students eat or don’t eat; that should be a decision made by students and their parents. It is not the school’s place to be making such a personal decision on behalf of students. It is not the school’s job to make parenting decisions. It is the school’s job to give students an education, so why not include an education in moderate eating?
Everyone likes to have dessert after a meal, so why should our students be deprived of that? If a student wants to have a Snickers bar or a packet of Skittles after eating lunch once in awhile, there is no harm in that. In Personal Fitness classes, students are taught that it is O.K. to eat candy and sweets, so long as they eat them in moderation. Students who just came from a long sports practice or have been in theater practice for several hours can treat themselves to a candy bar without harming their overall nutrition. The occasional candy treat is perfectly fine.
Now it is possible that students might go a little overboard and eat too much candy, but that is not the school’s job to enforce. If the school really wants to make a difference, they should further educate students and use required classes such as Health and Personal Fitness to show students the value of balanced eating and how to make informed choices. By taking away candy and sweets, the school is not allowing the students to practice informed decision-making.
It is not right for the government to get too involved in our lives by deciding what we can and can’t eat. We as American students should have the choice to eat candy if we so choose, particularly if it is a practice approved by our own parents.
We always hear that public schools are low on funding, and policies like this force them to buy more expensive food for students. Put sweet treats back into the vending machines and let the students show that they can practice balance and moderation.
“Grow up!” This phrase has been uttered by parents and teachers alike over the decades. There is constant pressure for young adults to be more independent, especially from adults who always tell teens how they need to be more mature. As high school students, there are numerous ways to show maturity and independence, such as achieving in difficult classes or maintaining a job. An opportunity to allow sophomores to demonstrate their maturity is to allow them to go off campus for lunch.
Only juniors and seniors can go off campus. The main reason upperclassmen are allowed to go out for lunch is because most of them have a driver’s license, or know someone who does. However, throughout the school year, most sophomores are turning 16. For many students, that means getting a driver’s license. Sophomores should be extended the privilege of off-campus lunch, at the very least during the second semester.
Some adults may argue that their inexperience with driving would make going off campus dangerous for sophomores, yet in order to receive a license a person must pass a formal driving exam. After passing this exam, 16-year-old drivers are given their Level Two license, which allows them to drive without an adult in the vehicle. By having 16-year-old drivers on probation, students are likely to be more careful while driving, resulting in a less dangerous driving environment. Sophomores are eager to drive and show their maturity in other ways; they should be allowed to use their new responsibility and go off campus. Although 9th and 10th grade are only one year apart, the maturity difference between freshmen and sophomores is enormous. Freshmen are still settling into high school, where the environment is very different than middle school. Going to the lunchroom with other students allows freshmen to meet new people and make new friends. And let us not forget that seating in the cafeteria is very limited, so having a few sophomores gone on off-campus days will make things less crowded. Freshmen also can use lunch to catch up on homework or study for tests and quizzes, since most freshmen are still learning to navigate the rigors of high school academics. The adjustment of going to a big school is enough for a freshman to worry about without the added distraction of going off campus.
But sophomores know their way around high school, many have gone to a formal dance, most have gone to football games, and many have had their first serious romantic relationship. Simply put, sophomores are not kids anymore. Although some sophomores drive cars to school, they still cannot use them to go off campus. Freshmen have Wagongate and experience formal dances for the first time, juniors are preparing for the SATs and taking the hardest classes of their high school career, and seniors are applying to colleges and planning for Prom. Coming back to school in the fall is not as appealing for sophomores because there are no new privileges, no milestones to celebrate.
At the very least, sophomore students should be allowed to go off campus for lunch by the second semester, when more of them have cars and licenses. By second semester, the students will be more mature and will be able to handle the privilege better. By allowing sophomore students to go off campus, they get a new responsibility and added excitement to their second year at Pioneer.
The Pioneer Optimist Staff
Editors in Chief
Connor Reid Klein
The Pioneer Optimist is written, edited and published in print 5 times a year and online weekly by the students of Pioneer High School. The Optimist office is located in room C-212, Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, 601 West Stadium Boulevard, Ann Arbor MI, 48103.
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