Student Government Updates: Student Government has a Fantastic First Semester


Photo credit: Emily Evans

Student Government President Samantha Graines speaks to the assembly during plenary.

Every Friday, the plush blue seats of the Auditorium are occupied by Upper School students, talking and laughing with one another, for Plenary which takes place from 1:05 to 1:45 PM. The overall function of Student Government is to give Upper School students an opportunity to govern themselves under their own democratic leadership. Plenary is the meeting of all Upper School students, where, for example, they vote on proposals and resolutions that are introduced.

The CPR Proposal, authored by Student Government President Samantha Graines, is an example of an effective proposal, that was passed by the Student Body on Friday, January 6. The main purpose of this proposal is to incorporate a day of CPR training, using the American Heart Association’s “CPR in Schools” plan and training kits, into freshman year health classes and senior seminar curriculum. This would ensure that Parker students are properly trained to save lives both in and out of school. 

Gary Childrey, one of the Upper School Counselors and a health teacher, thinks the CPR proposal is a good idea and an effective use of time. “It fits into the umbrella of what would be useful information for students to know,” Dr. Childrey said. Parker used to do CPR training in a similar format, in which qualified experts would come in during Health Class and Senior Seminar. “I chose to author this proposal because I think it is a great way that Parker students can give back to our community, and it is a cause that is personal to me,” Graines said. The CPR Proposal is just one example of the tangible positive change that Student Government can make to better the community.  

Senate is another integral part of Student Government, as it provides a space for students to express their opinions about topics ranging from sports equity to DEIB Conversations. As a part of their leadership roles, Senate Heads Naomi Gross, Arjun Kalra, Sarah Matthews, and Harry Lowitz, have to prepare for Senate meetings by writing questions and ordering food. “We also discuss what topics are currently prevalent at Parker and if we think any given topic could lead to productive feedback and outcomes. This can often take a while as we want students to be interested and engaged each week no matter the topic,” Sarah Matthews said.

Senate Heads spoke on changes they have made thus far. “We took the frustrations of the student body about the cameras and photographers in DEI and mental health talks straight to the administration, and now that no longer happens,” Matthews said, “Additionally, every proposal/resolution Student Government has seen this year has gone through Senate, and one was even made in a meeting.” The Finals Resolution, a resolution that works to give students proper time to prepare for their finals by providing concrete deadlines for teachers to tell their students about the type of final, the rubric being used to grade the final, and what percentage the final will be of their final grade, was first made during a Senate meeting. “We also heard the students’ issues with sports life at Parker, and took the problems to the head of the athletic department,” Matthews said. Looking forward to the second semester, they want to increase attendance to keep relaying feedback to the administration. “Senate can only make as much change as we get feedback, so the more we hear the better,” Matthews said. 

Participatory Budgeting, led by Treasurer Gray Joseph, is another crucial function of Student Government. In PB, students vote on which of the items they like, and then senior Joseph works with Upper School Dean of Student Life Joe Bruno to purchase the items. “It is a very behind-the-scenes role, and before I started this year I was not even entirely aware of the role,” Joseph said. 

Joseph also meets frequently with Bruno to coordinate and keep track of the spending habits of the student body. “I keep a spreadsheet of the expenditures, which I update after I receive email confirmations of the receipts from the business office. Before the year started,  Bruno and I met to distribute the budget into the areas we deemed the most necessary,” Joseph said. Participatory Budgeting this year has been able to fund a monitor, a spike ball net, a Wall Street journal subscription, markers and posters for Reproductive Justice Club, a Ping Pong table, a trampoline, and a new couch. “I feel like PB is effective, sometimes for a small group of people and other times for the whole student body. Something that we can work on is making PB more accessible for everyone. I also feel like people need to look at the long term more. While it’s easy to propose something, it’s also a little difficult to figure out where to keep it, and people often forget about it once we buy it,” junior Kumiko Muro said. As more Participatory Budgeting meetings are held throughout the year, this list of beneficial items for the student body will continue to grow. 

“I think that Student Government is as effective as we make it. If we put good ideas and proposals into the body, then they will generate positive feedback in return,” Graines said.