Paving the Way for Renewed Unity

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As new Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. tirelessly makes his rounds of Shaker Heights, he is gathering the voices of Shaker residents and students. His goal: “to address making Shaker schools the best schools in the country.

“In order for us to attain that goal, it’s going to require everyone from our citizens to our teachers to our students to our parents,” Hutchings said. He ultimately wants to give the community a voice, “so I can have a diverse perspective when facing some of the challenges we have.”

Becoming one of the best schools in the country involves more than simply improving test scores, though. Class unity is a frequently discussion topic among students. What exactly is class unity and does it factor into the quality of a school? Some students came up with their own definitions.

“Everyone helps each other out. They have each other’s backs even if you don’t particularly like them,” said junior Jordan Davenport.

“Everyone being together about ideas,” said sophomore Braden Mayerhoffer.

But does unity currently exist among the four grades?  “I think that separate groups are united together, but the entire class isn’t,” Mayerhoffer said.

The Shakerite reports on class unity almost yearly with consistently similar results. The consensus seems to be that there is a lack of school unity at Shaker. The question remains, “Why?”

“Whenever you have a population that is as incredibly diverse as Shaker’s, you’ll always have people with different interests, which can divide the student body,” senior Anna Katz suggested.

In the past month, Hutchings put together a superintendent student advisory council. He said there were 30 applications for five positions. “ I really want the students to have a voice on how we’re moving our district forward. They’re going to help define what our topics will be and what we stand for,” Hutchings said.

After careful review, Hutchings chose students, and the first council meeting took place Oct. 9. Hutchings thinks the advisory council will reap benefits. “Our student community will bring unity into the schools,” he said.

Katz is a member of the council and attended the first meeting. “We have one committee that will address student life and one that will address communications. I hope that between the two of those we can promote unity and create a cohesive school atmosphere,” Katz said.

Katz thinks a topic that ought to be discussed in the advisory council is that of the achievement gap. She tied this to the issue of unity. Katz said, “[The achievement gap] is an incredibly complex problem, but if we make the individual classrooms reflect Shaker’s diversity as a whole, it would help unify the student body.”

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