If Students Ruled the School


Sofia Bordas and Jaida Lewin

Group of students “ruling the school” as depicted by the crowns. Credit: Sofia Bordas and Jaida Lewin

Imagine a world where students have authority over every aspect of school life. For this article, we interviewed middle and high school students to find out what changes they would make to our school and what this “ideal” world would look like. Starting with one of the most important parts of the school: the teachers.

If you had the power to hire anyone in the world to be your teacher, who would you hire and why?

Many individuals at Riviera are student-athletes. As a result, they would love for their sports idol to be their teacher. One student this applies to is Armando “AJ” Paz (Grade 6), who says he would like Neymar Junior to be his teacher due to his big passion for soccer. Similarly, Julia Lapides (Grade 6) would like Messi for the same reason. They both believe that these famous athletes would make the class more enjoyable and give them side tips about soccer during tutorial. Others, like Cristina Masacrua (Grade 9) would prefer an inspirational leader such as Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall is an English primatologist considered the world’s expert on chimpanzees. Cristina implied that her attraction to Goodall started with their similar morals, “Jane makes me feel important and pushes me to be a better person. I got inspired by her quote ‘No matter your age, every day you are on the planet you have an impact to make and it’s your choice what kind of impact you want to make.’” Finally, Lola Caceres (Grade 6) would want her mom to be her teacher so that she can “do whatever [she] wants.” Could you imagine you walk into class and your mom is sitting at the desk? You would never get a bad grade again! But on a real note, mom teachers have to treat their children the same way they treat the other students; therefore, Caceres would not have all of the dreamed freedom.

Next, students had to decide what changes they would make to the school itself. It could be in the design/structure or even in the rules/regulations they don’t agree with.

If you were the principal and found yourself in charge of us, what would be the first thing you would do?

Many people think school is too strict and too boring. We received various responses on solutions to this issue. “I would put a bouncy house in the field,” said Caceres. She believes this unique and fun device would make breaks and lunch more enjoyable and allow students to let off steam after a day trapped inside a classroom. As an added bonus, it would make our school stand out compared to other schools in South Florida, and it has the potential to become a Riviera trademark/photo op. In addition, Maya St. John (Grade 6) said she would simply cancel classes for the rest of the year. Unrealistic, but I am sure many students feel the same. Eva Falla (Grade 9) would add a long, blue slide that reaches from the second floor to the first to make going to class more efficient and entertaining. Finally, Lapides would get rid of IDs. She believes they are unnecessary and ineffective and with the high expenses that come with losing them, she would rather eliminate them completely. Lapides would also eradicate the dress code to encourage individual expression and creativity.

What do students expect of their teachers and principal?

What makes a good teacher/principal?

During class, we all sometimes find ourselves thinking of ways teachers could make the day better. Ella Wildstein (Grade 9) would want the teachers to give more days off school, “because [she] needs a break from school as it is extremely mentally draining.” This would essentially be a mental health day or class period where students could catch up on late work. Natalie Gadinsky (Grade 9) wishes teachers incorporated more fun activities into the classroom. School can get extremely repetitive which can make students want to stop trying; therefore, she believes that if we occasionally inserted fun games and activities into the schedule, it would keep students more engaged.

Finally, what do the new leaders expect of the students? What rules do they have to follow and abide by?

What makes a good student?

According to Lapides, her idea of a good student “works hard, doesn’t talk in class, and is not mean to their peers or teachers.” Her goal is to be a good student and she encourages her friends to do the same. In the same fashion, Mariel St. John (Grade 9) said, “A good student is self-motivated, and is always prepared for any test or quiz. They put in full effort to any classwork they are assigned.”

It’s fun to think of everything you could do if you were in charge. Would you want to come to this imaginary school if it existed?