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Eight Sullivan County students attend student congress

Rick Wagner • Mar 22, 2019 at 11:45 AM

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A majority of Tennessee high school students at a recent statewide event said substituting club sports for physical education credit should be an option, and they think fighting on school grounds or during school activities should not be a zero-tolerance offense.

However, the group was about evenly split on using the Latin system of colleges to denote academic achievement over the current high school one of selecting the highest and second-highest-grade students as valedictorian and salutatorian, and it split about 60-40 percent on allowing more pathways and options for earning a high school diploma than currently allowed.

Eight students from Sullivan County, two from each county high school, joined some 349 of their high school peers in Murfreesboro on March 5 to express their views on public education in Tennessee at the Tennessee School Boards Association Student Congress on Policies in Education, known as SCOPE. The event took place on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.

Attending from Sullivan County Schools were Central’s Sadie King and Gabe Aquino; East’s Rebekah Skaggs and John Harbaugh; North’s Taylor Odham and Joe Cox; and South’s Emily Roberts and Dom Coughlin. Chaperones were Aaron Flanary, supervisor of career technical education and early postsecondary opportunities, and Brent Palmer, supervisor of curriculum and instruction.

SCOPE, in its 37th year, is designed to give students a voice where public education issues are concerned and to involve young people in finding solutions to the topics that are discussed. Attendees participated in mock school board sessions, where they assumed the roles of school board members, school officials, parents, students and concerned citizens. School board members, superintendents and educational leaders led the sessions.

Students then chose speakers to represent each of their 16 small groups who went on to take part in full-scale debates on current education issues. This year’s four debate topics and results from the poll were:

1. High school graduation requirements shall include several pathways/options (college and career, industry credentials, etc.) that allow students to graduate with a regular high school diploma. (Agree: 59 percent, disagree: 41 percent.)

2. Students shall have the option of substituting club sports for physical education requirements. (Agree: 80 percent, disagree: 20 percent.)

3. Fighting on school grounds or during school activities shall be a zero-tolerance offense. (Agree: 24 percent, disagree: 76 percent.)

4. For purposes of honors recognition at graduation, the board shall use the Latin System (i.e. summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) instead of selecting a valedictorian and salutatorian. (Agree: 51 percent, disagree: 49 percent.)

SCOPE delegates also elected 2020 SCOPE officers:

• President: Charlotte Lange, Rossview High School

• First Vice President: Rishi Pillai, Nolensville High School

• Second Vice President: Ty Youngblood, Greeneville High School

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