Forum Bridge Admin and Students


Reese Roaman, Staff Writer

The Student Government hosted the second monthly forum with Head of School Audrius Barzdukas on Friday, October 18th, in the library. Friday’s forum was a continuation of the previous forum, which addressed the topic of academics. Depending on the forum topic, Barzdukas is joined by either a department chair or an administrator most suitable to address the conversation efficiently. For this forum, Barzdukas was joined by Head of Upper School Sarah Bates, Assistant Head of School Michal Hershkovitz, and Upper School Dean Emily Gardiner. 


Students at the forum expressed their concerns about topics ranging from advanced class placements, communication between teachers in the same departments, and the removal of AP classes.


“I think the forum went well, and it was a valuable opportunity for students to share their concerns with the administration. I wish it could have been longer, and I hope for the next forum to be more student body based rather than addressing students’ personal concerns,” said Student Body President Julien Feuerman


Forums are a new initiative this year, started by the administration and occurring monthly. 

Topics for the forums vary throughout the year and are chosen by the Student Government. In late September, math teacher and Student Government advisor Stephen Bates sent an email to the Upper School stating, “Please use this form to suggest topics that you would like to discuss at the forums.” From the form responses, the Student Government works to find a topic using student input from the form and factors such as relevancy, importance, and matter urgency. 


“I am looking to the Student Government to take the lead and be the voice of the students in deciding what the topics and themes are that collectively the student body wants to discuss,” said Director of Engagement and Communications Jennifer Slomack in an interview in late September. 


A study by the Center for American Progress, an institution aiming to help initiate progressive ideas, strong leadership, and concerted action in communities, shows that student agency increases as students receive more leadership and greater responsibility in instruction or policy changes. When students understand what is happening outside of their classrooms they will feel more comfortable inside of them. “A really important general rule of life is that people own what they help to create, and I would like to help find more ways to help our students create our school and the school experience because then, they will own it,” said Barzdukas in an interview with the Polygon. 


The Quaglia Institute, an institution committed to fostering all voices and aspirations in learning communities worldwide, led a study that affirmed this statement. When a student’s voice is honored and invited inside academic grounds, they are more likely to “experience self-worth, be engaged, and have a sense of purpose in school.” 


“I think this will be very beneficial for the Poly community, especially since they allow students who are not a part of the student body to attend. It shows that our student body actually cares and wants to have their questions answered,” said Junior Anjali Budhram. 


These forums aim to be a way to bring the school together as a whole rather than being split between the administrators and the student body. The intended goal of the forums is “to help to provide an opportunity for students to have a direct connection with Mr. Barzdukas regularly,” said Slomack. 


“I feel in the past there has been a lack of connection between the student body and the administration, and I feel bridging that gap is definitely Poly moving forward in the right way,” added Budhram. 


Slomack sees this point of view, adding, “I hear the Polygon brainstorming all sorts of topics, and sometimes I am surprised that you guys are not as aware of things that are going on or why things are happening, so I am really excited for these forums so that students have an opportunity to ask these questions and are not left wondering.”