VIDEO: First-Class Citizens: Civics Isn't Just a Class
Running Time: 7 min.
For the students and staff of Hudson High School, in Hudson, Massachusetts, civics isn't just a class. It's part and parcel to everyday life at this New England high school, which has become a laboratory of democracy, challenging widely held assumptions about how schools can and should operate.
Several years ago, when the district set out to build a new high school facility, Superintendent Sheldon Berman, longtime principal John Stapelfeld, and the entire Hudson High community embarked on a journey that would take them to uncharted waters.
Their mission: to plan and build a school whose design would encourage a sense of community among its occupants and to move into the new facility after having laid the groundwork for a bold new experiment in school governance in which students have a say in the big and little decisions that make up school life.
At the core of Hudson's grand experiment is the community council, a committee consisting of elected students and staff that is responsible for making many decisions at Hudson typically left to the school principal or a faculty committee to decide. Meeting once a month, the committee (led by a student, rather than a teacher) discusses and recommends policy on everything from dress codes to lunchtime fare to parking policies and more.