The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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Middle school matters

Middle schoolers now have the chance to participate in a leadership program of their own, called the Knesset. The new system is inspired by the Israeli government and started in early October.

The elections were broken up by students’ Morning Check-In (MCI) groups. MCI is a class that occurs every morning in the middle school where students check in with teachers. Each MCI elected one representative, and all representatives regularly meet with Middle School Principal Cassandra Batson and Middle School Assistant Principal Rabbi Janet Ozur Bass to discuss changes they wish to see implemented.

This is different from high school grade governments whose representatives are elected by and represent the entire grade. Ozur Bass believes the MCI representative system will allow for smaller groups to have representation and make their voices heard.

“I ran because I wanted to be able to just make an impact because I’ve noticed a lot of my friends [having the same concerns] about certain things in the middle school and I wanted to see if I can change some of that,” eighth grade representative Caitlyn Levitan said.

Elected students will step into leadership roles that were previously unavailable in middle school and will serve as a link between their MCI and the administration. This will help middle schoolers develop leadership skills they can use in high school and beyond.

“It’s always been a goal of ours to further develop leadership and really help students find different ways to be leaders in the community, and this is one more way we wanted to extend it,” Ozur Bass said. “We do a lot of leadership work in the eighth grade, and we wanted to extend it to the seventh and sixth [grades] so that we’re creating a culture [of stepping into leadership positions].”

Batson and Ozur Bass will give students in the Knesset information to share with their MCI group. The students will then gather feedback from their MCI group to present at the next meeting.

“The vision is to give students a platform to contribute their feedback, their thoughts [about] what’s happening in the middle school [and] foster leadership among peers,” Batson said.

The administration hopes that introducing elections and school government systems earlier than before will provide students with leadership opportunities before they are in high school and will prepare them for future grade elections.

“There’s no substitute for experience,” social studies teacher Matthew Jacobson said. “So as these kids get the experience of being in student government, when they’re ready to make that step up in ninth grade, they’re going to have that extra year under their belt to know what’s expected of them.”

The Knesset is one of the changes Batson has made since becoming middle school principal this summer. This is a part of her mission to further embrace the idea of kehillah throughout the middle school.

“As I wrap my head around learning [my] new job, [I think,] where are the different places I can learn? Who can I learn from?” Batson said. “I thought, I need to learn from the students because we’re here to support them.”

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