Wauwatosa Mock School Board 2011

“They were debating whether to cut school sports or not and I did not like that. I actually kind of got emotional about it. I was gettin’ mad.” This was the reaction of West Junior Tom Blake as he and dozens of other students listened to the school board debate.

What? Wauwatosa is going to cut high school sports? You must be kidding. Well, actually, we are!

This was just one of the topics discussed by Wauwatosa West and East high school students at the annual Mock School Board Meeting on the evening of Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011.

Wauwatosa West and East Juniors played the role of school board members and school district administrators. Students were also in the audience and were invited to comment on the various issues being debated. In fact, if you weren’t paying attention, you would have thought this was a real school board meeting.

The mock school board meeting is in its 10th year and is sponsored by the Wauwatosa Youth Commission in cooperation with the Wauwatosa School District.

The participants researched four main topics: adopting a restorative justice program in the high schools, eliminating finals week at the high schools, purchasing personal computing devices (IPads or E-Readers), and discontinuing athletics in order to meet budget shortfalls. Following the way the actual school board runs their meetings, each student participant had the chance to speak and then vote on if they agreed or disagreed with the issues being addressed.

According to Wauwatosa Youth Commission member, Samuel Benedict, “The objectives of the mock school board are to give young people a chance to experience the process of representative government in Wauwatosa and to discuss issues of concern for students and youth in Wauwatosa schools.”

West Junior, Will Harrington learned a lot about the power of the school board in his role as the Principle of West High School. “It taught me a lot about how much the school board is in control, and how hard the teacher and principals have to work in order to get something passed.”

In addition to their research, they had to interview their professional counterparts on the School Board and school administration to get additional information.

According to school board member, Michael Meier, the students from Wauwatosa East and West acted like the real school board. “Many [students] had thoughtful opinions, and it seemed that everyone voted according to their beliefs.”

Whether in the audience or on the school board, students agree that they learned something about how the school board operates.

According to East Junior, Charlie Gagne, “I think I learned how a normal school board meeting works and how much the nine school board member’s opinions can affect the students.”

For West Junior Tom Blake, the meeting was “proper and official and was a pretty simple process for making decisions.” “It was actually kind of cool.” Blake added.

And, that ain’t no joke.

Reporter: Lydia Smrz

Photographer: Emily Hoffmann

View footage from the meeting here