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Students lend insight to issues facing public education

A delegation of Unicoi County students and members of the Unicoi County Board of Education recently attended the annual Student Congress on Policies in Education in Murfreesboro. Attending the event were, pictured from left, board member Lisa White, Sam Murillo, Christian Leon, Ashlynn Gentry, board member Ruth Gaines, Elizabeth Sutphin and Bill Gaines. (Contributed photo)
A delegation of Unicoi County students and members of the Unicoi County Board of Education recently attended the annual Student Congress on Policies in Education in Murfreesboro. Attending the event were, pictured from left, board member Lisa White, Sam Murillo, Christian Leon, Ashlynn Gentry, board member Ruth Gaines, Elizabeth Sutphin and Bill Gaines. (Contributed photo)

Students from Unicoi County High School joined approximately 300 of their high school peers in Murfreesboro on March 9 to express their views on public education in Tennessee at the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) Student Congress on Policies in Education (SCOPE). The event took place on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.

Attending from UCHS were students Christian Leon, Sam Murillo, Elizabeth Sutphin and Ashlynn Gentry. Chaperoning the group were school board member Ruth Gaines and husband, Bill, and board member Lisa White

Now in its 34th year, SCOPE is designed to give students a voice where public education issues are concerned and to involve young people in finding solutions to the topics that are discussed. Attendees participated in mock school board sessions, where they assumed the roles of school board members, school officials, parents, students and concerned citizens. The sessions were led by actual school board members, superintendents and education leaders from across the state.

During the afternoon session, students selected a speaker to represent each of their small groups to take part in full-scale debates on current education issues. This year’s four debate topics included: Teachers shall incorporate smartphones into classroom instruction;  All students shall be required to participate in at least one extracurricular activity per year; Prior to graduation, students shall be required to complete 48 hours of community service during their junior/senior years; The school calendar shall be increased from 180 to 200 days of instruction.

Following each debate, participants had the opportunity to vote to support or oppose the debate issues by participating in an online, SMS texting survey.

SCOPE delegates also elected the 2017 SCOPE officers and they are: President: Will Clark, Fayetteville High School, Fayetteville; 1st Vice President: Carson Watts, Rossview High School, Clarksville-Montgomery County; 2nd Vice President: Connor McClelland, Daniel Boone High School, Washington County.