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Community Conversations at Northwestern Regional

Public forums offer insight to the school and its students


By Colleen Gundlach

An opportunity to view the inner mechanisms of Regional School District No.7 was offered to the public when the district’s Board of Education sponsored a Community Conversation evening. The event, held on November 2, was the third of a series that board members plan to continue each year. The first, held in 2014, was an open discussion with area elected officials where legislative concerns were aired. In 2015, the meeting focused on an exchange of ideas relative to the school district’s future.

Student representatives of Northwestern High School’s Agricultural Education provided an overview of their experiences at the 2016 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis.  Student participants in the 2016 Alcoa Scholar Summer Program, Members of Northwestern’s FIRST Robotics Team #4055, NRG, and students who attended the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Facebook’s InspirED Changemaker Award Conference in San Francisco all gathered to discuss the impact these special activities have had on their lives and learning.

The most striking outcome of this year’s Community Conference, according to school board chairman Molly Sexton Read, is the exchange of ideas among the students. After each student group presented, a discussion among the students ensued, opening the door for cooperation and integration of the different interests. The students found common ground, suggesting ways to integrate their individual efforts into school-wide action. “The students are finding ways to break down the tasks in each of their activities to encourage those not actually part of a team to be able to take part,” says Sexton Read. “They are finding ways to open doors to include more students who might otherwise not step forward and looking at ways to cross-pollinate the activities.”

One idea that came out of the meeting was to create a place on the school’s website where students, parents and townspeople alike can go to find volunteer opportunities at the school. From organizing paperwork to fundraising to helping a student learn a new task, volunteers are always needed.

The Regional No. 7 school board hopes to continue to offer these forums for community discussion. Sexton Read says, “It’s important to be able to open a wider-ranging conversation outside of the budget-making process, to share the high spots and discuss any needed changes.”

To learn more about Regional School District No. 7, visit www.nwr7.com

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