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The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Farewell Eighth Grade

New proposal reflects eighth grade’s exit from Student Government
Hudson+Davis+and+Sarah+Matthews+present+the+eighth+grade+proposal.
Photo credit: Gabrielle Silverman
Hudson Davis and Sarah Matthews present the eighth grade proposal.

The eighth grade has left their spot in the Upper School Student Government and joined the newly formed Student Council for third- through eighth-graders. In response, Parliamentarian Hudson Davis and President Sarah Matthews have written and introduced a proposal to fully remove the eighth grade from the Student Government Constitution. 

According to the authors, the proposal does not influence  whether the eighth grade is a part of Student Government because the administration decision removed them. Its sole purpose is to reflect the administration’s actions in the Student Government Constitution. “This proposal is essentially just reflecting what we have heard from the Middle School administration and revising the language in the constitution,” Davis said. 

Aside from their voting power, “the removal of eighth grade from Student Government shouldn’t have much impact on the way it runs,” Secretary Ella Goodman said, as participation from the eighth-graders has been minimal over the past few years. The Class of 2027 only partially attended one Plenary before they voted in the 2023-24 election.

The eighth grade first appeared in Student Government in the 1970 Constitution. They would meet weekly with the directors of cross-grade communication (DoCCs) to learn about all things Student Government, starting right after County Fair. Then in the second semester, they would attend all plenaries.

Eighth grade students were active members of the assembly with the same power as Upper School students. “They were voting members,” Upper School history teacher and Student Government faculty advisor Jeanne Barr said, who has served as the Student Government faculty advisor for over 20 years. “They commented on proposals, they could run for office, they could do anything that any other member of the body could do.” 

The decrease in their participation started around 10 years ago when the eighth-grade faculty wanted the time back that Student Government was taking up. The eighth grade schedule has had new elements added including computer programming which just made it more difficult for Upper School Student Government to have time. Instead of starting Student Government training after County Fair, the schedule  was changed to the beginning of November, which then became the beginning of December, which eventually resulted in eighth graders not having any Student Government time in the first semester.

The lack of dedicated Student Government time made it difficult for the eighth grade to get acclimated to Student Government. “It became really hard because the DoCC’s who were charged with training them had no time to go train them,” Barr said. The lack of training also caused uninformed voting. “You shouldn’t have institutionally designed uninformed voters. You’re always gonna have uninformed voters, there’s always gonna be kids who aren’t paying attention, that’s going to happen in a democracy, but you can’t have it set up so that 20% of the electorate is systemically uninformed,” Barr added.

The new Student Council that the eighth grade is joining will operate differently than Student Government. “In Middle School, there will be representatives from each advisory,” Intermediate and Middle School Dean of Student Life Anthony Shaker said. “They are nominated. They will also be reporting back to their advisories, which we think is more of a representative democracy.”

The new proposal to remove eighth grade from the Constitution not only mirrors the thoughts of the Middle School administration but also fixes some of the systemically rooted problems with their participation in Student Government. “This is like a new era for Student Government, ” Goodman said. “I’m excited for all of the new things to come.”

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About the Contributor
Jayden Patel, Brief Writer
Jayden Patel is excited to start his first year on "The Weekly" as a Brief Writer and Staff Writer. When he isn't updating people on the latest Parker news, he is spending his time playing tennis, creating the Student Voice, or getting a latte at Starbucks.