By Valeri Guevarra, Editor in Chief (‘22)
On Monday, March 28th, all students across the RIH district took some time out of their english classes to complete Superintendent Dionisio’s Thought Exchange form.
Thought Exchange is a discussion management platform that focuses on making the world more thought, one community at a time. According to the company’s website, several other school districts have implemented the use of the platform in addition to companies like Canadian bank RBC and movie theatre chain Cineplex.
Dr. Dionisio noted in the introduction video in the form that the purpose of the discussion form was to hear from all student voices on areas of strength and improvement in the RIH school community. Previously, Dr. Dionisio had solely been meeting monthly with the student councils of both schools and handfuls of students.
The question that Dr. Dionisio asked in the form was “What are the points of pride in our schools that we should continue to celebrate, and what are some areas we should focus on in order to improve?”
In my English class, we enthusiastically started brainstorming and quickly typed up responses ranging from sports, off-campus lunch, and supporting the arts, but the most engaging part of the discussion board is the rating of already posted thoughts. I excitedly breezed through rating a bunch of reasonable requests including excused absences for mental health days and later start times. Seeing that other students shared the same concerns and wishes for our community was comforting and made me optimistic about change due to the large amount of thoughts on certain topics. The added feature of anonymity when posting thoughts excited me about actual change being addressed in the forum. Some topics that were mentioned frequently on the board include “sleep”, “traffic”, “food”, and “break”. As of April 4th, the board has over 2400 posted thoughts.
Others also felt hopeful for change after completing the discussion board. Senior Sydney Chiang said “I found it very progressive to have the students actually address their concerns, but due to the sheer number of [students at] Ramapo and Indian Hills, I’m worried that a large part of the student body still remained unseen. Either way, though, I’m excited to see what changes will take place.”
However, some felt that although the Thought Exchange is a step forward in the right direction, there is still uncertainty about if the discussion would spark real change in the distinct. An anonymous Hills student said that “I think that was a step in the right direction. However, I am unsure if administration will consider the responses seriously. I feel like they will think that creating this space where students can express their frustrations is enough rather than actually trying to address the problems students pointed out. […] I just hope that administration will take the responses seriously and actually utilize it.”