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CREATING CHANGE: THE FOUNDING OF THE RIDGEFIELD ACADEMY STUDENT COUNCIL

When our students approach their education with openness and curiosity, they often arrive at this question: Can we, as a community, make something better?

As the student leaders of Ridgefield Academy, Grade 8 students are encouraged to consider the opportunity they have to make a positive impact in their final year. Last fall, eighth grader Kiran R. identified an opportunity to fulfill a need within the school. Recognizing how important it is for every individual within the community to be heard, Kiran wanted the student body to have a stronger voice through a Student Council.

Other Grade 8 students were just as inspired by the thought of establishing an Upper School Student Council, so the idea quickly became a plan of action. A team of four students was assembled as the Student Council Founders’ Committee—Kiran R., Béibhinn G., Griffin J., and Sam Y.—to work toward the common goal.

“We were inspired by the challenge of not feeling heard to create a system that would allow anybody to bring up a problem and create change," Kiran said.

The Student Council Founders’ Committee then approached Head of Middle and Upper School Clinton Howarth and Head of School Tom Main with a proposal.

“Tom and I saw that the kids were really passionate about the idea of having a Student Council as part of our Upper School program, and we wanted to let them run with it,” Howarth said.

Over the course of nearly the entire 2020-2021 academic year, the students met regularly with Mr. Howarth and Mr. Main to develop a mission, write a charter, and determine how the Council would be governed. According to the charter, the Council was formed to give students a say in the school culture while demonstrating and creating opportunities for leadership and involvement within the RA community. The student representatives and faculty advisors in the Council will strive to be create an exemplary body of respect, leadership, and kindness.

“Undoubtedly, this group of students has worked to create a positive and lasting legacy for our school,” Howarth said.

The Ridgefield Academy Student Council will begin in the 2021-22 school year for Grades 6 - 8 with the purpose of providing the student body with a voice. Students interested in serving on the Council will sign a pledge acknowledging the responsibilities of the position and will be allowed to campaign prior to the election. There will be two elections per year, one at the start of Fall Term and one at the start of Spring Term, and each elected representative is guaranteed one term.