Agassiz students hold own school issues dialogue
If the seventh-graders in Rachel Heggen's class get their way, there would be a new Agassiz Middle School in Fargo. Heggen's fifth-hour students held a mini "Fargodome" dialogue Friday, answering questions about how they think the...
If the seventh-graders in Rachel Heggen's class get their way, there would be a new Agassiz Middle School in Fargo.
Heggen's fifth-hour students held a mini "Fargodome" dialogue Friday, answering questions about how they think the school district should address school sizes, busing, and what to do with their own digs at Agassiz.
"They have lots to say," said Heggen. "They just need someone to listen."
The exercise was prompted by Assistant Principal Deb Dillon, who also serves on the district's long-term facilities committee.
"It was a group opportunity for them to have a better understanding of what the community is going through right now, and a good chance to learn consensus building," she said.
Dillon will present the students' results to the panel. Just like the adults who went to the community dialogues Thursday and in March, they could make a difference.
"It could have an impact" on a close vote, Dillon said. "I think the group will listen to their ideas."
Most of the seventh-grade social studies students will do the surveys next week. Heggen's students took their head start seriously.
"I think it's good that they're giving us a chance to say what we'd want to do," said Janna Deyle, after leading her group through the questions. "We're the ones who have to live with it."
As a class, it was a close call on what to do with Agassiz: Start anew edged out renovate.
"The middle schools are overcrowded and we should build a new middle school and make new school boundaries," wrote one student.
"I think they should build a new building because right now the school is old and junky," wrote another.
On many issues, the students' answers mirrored the adults:
- The north and south sides should have the same configuration for grades. "It's like two different cities," said one student.
- The School District can do some busing, but when the commutes are too long, it's time to build a school. "I would rather have to go to a new school near where I live than far from my house," one student wrote. Another said "We have to be reasonable about it. We can't send someone from way south of town to Fargo North schools."
- Bus rides should be no longer than 15-30 minutes, especially for small fry. "In elementary, for sure, you should not have to ride a bus for more than 30 minutes."
Despite what adults thought was a good turnout Thursday night -- about 340 people -- Deyle said the city should have done better.
"I think more people should have made it a priority," she said.
"I think it's everybody's job," piped in Anthony Canaan.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583