Student group at PHS wants more time for current events

By Katie Wagner, Staff Writer
   Representatives of New Jersey Students for Peace plan to ask the Princeton Regional School District to provide high school students with more opportunities to discuss and debate current events and world issues in the classroom.
   The group’s Princeton High School members, who organized a March 19 walkout on school property to protest continuation of U.S combat involvement in Iraq, said they would bring the request to Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
   ”The students feel that the Iraq war is an issue that is extremely relevant to students’ lives today, and many don’t know what is really happening — just the information they see on television and mainstream media,” sophomore Aislinn Bauer said in a press release. Adding that media coverage fails to provide “a full scope” of events, Ms. Bauer said: “Current high school students need to have the opportunity to learn and discuss these issues, because it will affect their lives as well as the future of this country.”
   According to the release, the group wants teachers to encourage students to talk about their views on any issue, while acting a moderators and also encouraging the expression of alternate views. The students are also calling for the creation of electives on current events.
   Judy Wilson, the school district’s superintendent, said the school board and school district’s administrative staff already encourage the high school’s teachers to have great dialogue and interaction with their students.
   ”It’s hard to hear that one group of students wants more time to share their opinions, when our teachers are there interacting with their students about their opinions and curiosities on every hour,” Ms. Wilson said. “Teachers are skilled at finding the teachable moment or the graspable moment, especially teachers in Princeton. It (Princeton Regional Schools) is a place where there is great dialogue and respect for student activism and that’s just what education is all about.
   ”It’s difficult when someone says we want more, because it’s not a yes or no answer. We don’t know what that means. How do we quantify that?” she added.
   As for the student group’s desire to see current events electives, Ms. Wilson said there are practical reasons why adding any new electives to the high school’s curriculum may not be possible.
   ”I feel in general we have a very full curriculum and electives are very limited, especially for freshman and sophomores with state and local requirements,” she said. “There are other practical issues we face, such as rooms and personnel.
   ”There’s no end to great ideas for electives and they would each be fascinating and engaging and students would want to take them and teachers would want to teach them, but there are only eight periods a day and teachers want their students to reach a certain level in their studies.”
   The school board meeting will be held at John Witherspoon Middle School at 8 p.m.