Flanked by middle school principal Joan Keegan and faculty advisor Tom Fauvell, the Herricks Middle School student government held their annual meeting with the Herricks Board of Education on December 13.
Arranged in a circle at the rear of the cafeteria, students gave their annual reports from their various committees such as activities & food to fundraising, public relations and buildings & grounds.
“When Hurricane Sandy interrupted our lives here at the middle school, our committees were beginning the process of developing and investigating ideas for how our student government could assist in creating a more wonderful school,” student president Chase McGahan said, asking in the face of multi-million dollar budget cuts that the board “maintain what we already have in place” and calling potential cuts a “terrible step backwards.”
The grounds committee headed by Connie Mule reported that damage has been sustained to the garden with a fallen panel in the greenhouse that has since been fixed, broken doors, lost trees, a damaged fountain in which the fish are dying and lost tropical plants. They also requested to reseed the football and soccer fields, “flatten and fix” the track and add a place for basketball to be played.
Suggestions for the improvement of student life given to the board ranged from placing a bulletin board featuring daily announcements at the front entrance, an annual talent show, various fundraisers including a family fun night, walk-a-thons, “Green Day” money for the greenhouse, food drives, sports days, addressing cafeteria food such as expiration dates, fresh vegetables and alternatives to milk, continuing to hold the eighth grade graduation at the Tilles Center, continuing the Frost Valley and Boston trips, ventilation in the gym and cafeteria and replacement of older water fountains and bathrooms.
“How much expired food are you actually eating in the cafeteria?” board vice-president Gounaris asked. “I’m kidding. If they are, we really have trouble. There’s been a lot of talk about the food in the cafeteria in all the buildings because that changed because the Federal government changed the guidelines and we’ve heard nothing but grief from the students and some of the staff about the quantities, it’s not filling enough, doesn’t taste good. We think there’s going to be a slight change in how we can now present that food and the quantity; it should be better than it was.”
Keegan did state that it has been reported where “occasionally, very occasionally, a student might get something that’s expired; they’re very through in going through that... but this is reported recently.”
The students also reported that the gym floors “Are very slippery and need to be fixed.” The gym floor was replaced after a recent flood but Keegan said that the type of finish used has made squeaking sounds. “It’s also laid... it’s not the way a gym flood should be done,” superintendent Dr. John Bierwirth said, “because it doesn’t have the air underneath it. This was an inexpensive way of doing the gym floors and we didn’t put in windows in there either. The whole substructure is very...minimal. You have no way of removing moisture and other things. Some of the problems we have here you don’t have up at the high school. And remember, the building was built on the lowest part of the property; there was a pond here. So moisture is coming down, we’ve had problems with it undermining the building that’s why we had to redo the corridors a couple years ago.”
Students are also considering a school-wide effort to reach out to children affected by the hurricane such as adopting another middle school or the “Wounded Warriors Project.”