Why Does Byram Hills Lack a True Student Body Government?

By Danny Lombara

Many students at BHHS wonder why our school lacks a student body government and doesn’t have a school election, like HCC and other high schools. “I think a class presidential election would be interesting,” says Freshman Nick Skiera,“I definitely know kids who would want to run in it.” So, if kids would be interested in a student body government, why isn’t there one already?

Well, unknown to many students, something similar to a student body government does exist, called Parliament, which is new this year. Run by Mr. Naughton, a history teacher, Parliament is a club where students discuss improvements for Byram Hills High School. Members of the club, after affirming a topic, such as schedules or grading policy, do research on what other schools nearby do about these topics. They may also conduct a survey to see what students think should be done. After coming up with an improvement that could be made, Parliament brings their idea to Mr. Walsh and the administration, who will decide whether it will be put in place or not.

Parliament is an interesting club which actually will produce impacts in the way the school is run. However, it lacks an election, which maybe isn’t a problem given the effective way that the club is run. But some students think that an election would be extremely beneficial. “I think a school election would get more of the administration’s attention on student issues,” says Freshman Bennett Schwartz. An election would most likely increase student involvement and gain more attention from students and the administration. “There are some things about the school I’d like to change,” says Sophomore Lucas Travers. It could also teach students public relations skills, which is helpful for students who plan to become famous.

On the other side, Freshman Zach Daniel thinks that adding an election wouldn’t accomplish much. Zach remarks that “Nothing changed much with the elections in HCC, and more stuff would probably be done if we just let Parliament be.” When I asked Mr. Naughton why our school lacked an election, he asked in return what I would change about the school that could realistically be done. I couldn’t think of anything. Sure, no homework, no testing, but that wouldn’t go by with any school administration. “I don’t think students here really have a big problem with the way that the school is run,” Mr. Naughton continued, “So an election may not be interesting or even useful when there’s not much to argue over.” In other words, he thinks students are generally happy with the Byram Hills administration and policies, making an election unnecessary.

Parliament works well because their research is specific, effective, and collaborative. It also still establishes the idea of a true democracy, as any student can join if they wish, instead of an election, which inhibits the power of the average student.