Where Students Are More Than Just Students

May 31, 2011

Today is the final entry in our guest series from Unity Charter School, and it seems only fitting that we end it with thoughts from a student – Morgan Goldberg (pictured below in the middle of the photo) who is an 8th grader at Unity.

Unity Charter School middle school students

By Morgan Goldberg
8th grade student

The 2010-2011 school year is only my second at Unity, but I, like most of my classmates, feel like I have been going here for much longer. At Unity Charter School, community is something highly valued, and it is clear from walking in the door that our school is a unique place. The principles of sustainability and “positive discipline” are widely known and upheld, and this shows throughout an average day at Unity.

I am in 8th grade, in a class with 7th and 8th graders, but I regularly talk to and spend time with students of all grades, particularly in the first few minutes of the day when we all take part of what is referred to as “Morning Meeting.” Our entire school gathers in the our multi-purpose room for announcements and acknowledgments before we break apart for class meetings which are a more targeted version of our large meetings. I think this sets our day off on a positive note.

Throughout the day, we learn in new and inventive ways. The principles of sustainability – our “mission” – are enforced throughout the day when we do things such as learn about alternative energy in Science class, discuss current events in Social Studies, and help out in our newly thriving garden. As our school grows, this is expanding as well. For example, our new SmartBoard and science lab help our Educating for Sustainability (EfS) program to grow.

At Unity, we have a unique relationship with our teachers in that they value our opinions and listen to us. They are understanding, patient and approachable. We have respect for them because of who they are, not merely because we “should.”

I also love that, at Unity, there are so many ways to be involved. Democratic Governance, our Student Council, is at the heart of our school and I have been a part of it since I’ve been attending Unity. We have central officers, and representatives from each class from Kindergarten through 8th grade, and have two student council meetings a month, along with a “Democratic Governance Meeting” to share the summary with the school. There are also student-led “interest groups,” peer mediation programs and committees to be involved in. There is a big focus on finding, developing, and using students’ voices, and I think we all benefit from this.

However, I can honestly say I have fun here. Although we do focus on academics and leadership, we do things such as our highly anticipated field trips (which are approvingly frequent) both local and not, after-school events, and Middle School dances. Even throughout the day, I can work with younger students, have daily recess, and see my friends.

Though I am excited to be attending high school next year, I can honestly say I will miss Unity and all of the people who work and attend here.  From the beginning of the school day to the end, we are valued as more than just students. We have a great balance of academics, socialization and just plain fun. The relationships, the ability to speak and be heard, and community here is what keeps every day moving as smoothly as it (most of the time) does. And I can honestly say I am going to leave Unity much happier,  than I was when I came. •

Special thanks to Morgan and to all of our guest writers from Unity Charter School. In case you missed any of the previous entries in this series, you can find the links here:

Part 1 – Unity Charter School: With Room To Grow
Part 2 – Unity Charter School: A Teacher’s Perspective
Part 3 – “I feel like I died and went to school heaven
part 4 – The Importance of Volunteering

Images: Unity Charter School