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School Board Shenanigans

Missouri Girls State’s Board of Education has been determined, and the School Board is preparing to meet for the first time. The Board is made up of parents, teachers, and students, all with differing backgrounds, beliefs, and values. We took to their meeting location to meet all the board members, their situations, and the fabricated issue at hand.

Once we arrived on the scene, we were informed the issue was deciding whether or not to close the district’s school due to rising COVID cases. There were many for the closing of schools, including Grace Wright, a teacher at the school who has family with pre-existing health conditions, and is afraid of passing the virus on to them. There was also Grace Peterson, a student at the high school. She claimed it was unfair that everyone else was getting out of school and that the school should “free yo girl.”

There were also many against closing schools. Courtney Hoeft, a first-year teacher, wanted schools to stay open so she wouldn’t have to handle the first year of her career away from resources and normalcy. Jaelyn Kennedy, who is top of her class at the school, is also against school closure because she has no access to the internet at home, and is worried about grades and rank lowering. Another student, Sophie Wright, is the baseball captain, and doesn’t want school closure to affect their chance to play sports, stating “I want my season.”

There were also a few among the group in between, one of which being Allison Harris, a teacher that has mixed feelings and understands both sides, because the fear of the spread of COVID as well as the fear of kids losing their education are both tough challenges. Additionally, a student, Hannah Patterson, advocates for those who rely on school for more than education; Patterson has four younger siblings that all rely on school meals to get the food they need, and therefore cannot support school closure, at least not without meal accommodation.

As you can tell, there are a wide variety of people, backgrounds, and situations that make resolving this issue very difficult. There is no way for everyone to get what they want; In this way, the new School Board simulations already show listeners and participants some of the main lessons Girls State aims to teach: Listening and having civil conversation with others who disagree with you is a necessary tool to have, no one is going to get exactly what they want in situations like these, and compromise is the key to progress.

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