What School Congress Has Done So Far

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constitution-preamble-gavelAs you probably know, LiHigh School operates using a School Congress, where every member of our community, both students and staff, has an equal voice and an equal vote when it comes to proposing and enacting the laws of the school. In addition, a rotating group of students, advised by a staff member, make up the Judicial Committee, which is in charge of enforcing the laws of the school (i.e., instead of “getting sent to the office,” students at LiHigh School are reported to their peers on the Judicial Committee).

For this post, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of what School Congress has enacted so far this school year:

  • An amendment to Law 502, so that it now reads, “The judicial committee will consist of four members: one from each phase, plus a non-voting staff member to advise. The term for each member shall last for one quarter. The committee shall meet at least once every other week to determine which (if any) offenses to pursue, though if circumstances warrant it, the committee may convene for an emergency session.”
  • The creation of Law 609, which details what members must do to complete an independent project; specifically, that they must give an exhibition — “real demonstrations of learning” — in front of a panel, whom will be responsible for assessing whether the student has “passed”
  • The creation of Law 610, which requires members at the end of each quarter to “make a short presentation reflecting on their work for the quarter, highlighting their successes, discussing their challenges, setting their goals for the upcoming quarter, and discussing how they align with their learning plan.”
  • The creation of Law 320, which regulates use of the sole couch in the school by prioritizing members who are reading books or articles over members who are browsing Facebook, watching videos, or simply hanging out
  • The creation of Law 410, which gives Congress the power to create committees, as well as the makeup of power within those committees
  • The creation of Law 321, which enacts the “Dibs” rule and establishes that the member who calls “Dibs” on a chair has the right to control that chair until the end of the block
  • The creation of Law 411 and Law 412, which require Congress to hold semi-annual meetings to review, first, the school’s general compliance with the Lawbook, and second, the current Phase Level Expectations and to make suggestions for improvements if warranted.
  • The creation of Law 413, which details the duties of the Congress’s secretary
  • The repeal of Law 503, which had dictated the time and place of Congress’s weekly meeting but did so using an outdated schedule
  • The creation of Law 414, which reserves the right of Congress to regulate the use of devices (smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc.) within the school
  • The creation of Law 513, which details what happens when a student does not comply with the Judicial Committee, assigning the issue to the whole Congress to address
  • The creation of Law 611, which gives leaders of seminars, workshops, and presentations the power to regulate the use of devices during the seminar, workshop, or presentation, including the power to determine whether a device is properly “put away”
  • The creation of Law 322, which forbids members from putting their “shoes, socks, feet, or whole bodies” on the various tables in the school

As you can see, the Congress addresses a number of areas at LiHigh, not just behavioral issues, but also judicial issues, congressional issues, and in matters of curriculum design. The power that we give our students over their entire education is just one more reason why LiHigh School offers a truly unique educational experience for the teenagers of central and southern Vermont.

And in case you didn’t know, we are accepting applications for students interested in joining us, including students who are interested in finishing out their 2015-2016 school year here at LiHigh.

You can call us at (802) 287-2411 or email our director, Greg Rosenthal, if you have any questions about getting started.

Author: Kyle Callahan

Hi, I'm Kyle. I'm an advisor at LiHigh School. I've been involved in progressive education since I was in high school. I was an original member (and student representative) of the Progressive Program at Green Mountain College, and for my Master's degree, I attended Goddard College, which started the trend toward progressive education in the 1960s. Along with teaching at LiHigh School, I teach courses in creative writing and communications at Green Mountain College. I live with my wife and daughter in Poultney.

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