TORCH: Middle School Student Governance

TORCH stands for Togetherness, Open-mindedness, Respect, Compassion, and Heart. These truly are the values that emanate from our middle school student governance model. TORCH develops individual leadership skills, and it experientially teaches all students how to be engaged, responsible participants in vitally important processes. Collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity and character are all fostered when students come together in a room to make a decision.

Each year, students select their own leaders by consensus, with emphasis on the qualities that best fit each role. 8th grade clerks and 7th grade co-clerks lead meetings for the full middle school, and class representatives lead meetings for their own classes. TORCH representatives collect student input about school policies, initiatives, and programs. Past TORCH items range from selecting the school mascot (Go Hawks!) to gathering feedback about yearly transitions and trips. 

Giving students a voice and a pathway to exhibit their natural leadership is remarkably empowering. TORCH benefits students in their individual growth and it strengthens and brightens the community because it lifts up every voice.

YEARTORCH InitiativeS - A Timeline of Examples
2008-2009TORCH led a "representative consensus" process to choose a school mascot. They collected ideas from the community, and then a committee selected four strong possibilities. They brought these choices - Grizzlies, Gators, Storm, and Red-tailed Hawks - back to the community for more input. The group then faced a difficult decision process, as the wider community had different preferences than the deciding group. Ultimately, they moved forward with the choice that had widest appeal, and they adapted it from "Red-tailed Hawks" to "Hawks."
2011TORCH did a trial in the lunchroom to learn if using a composting service could be cost effective for GSFS. They discovered that two thirds of lunchroom waste could be composted or recycled under the new parameters. GSFS added a composting component in fall of 2011.
2011TORCH governance team began leading middle school assemblies.
2012When the "blacktop" opened up, TORCH anticipated potential problems (such as overlapping games and balls being kicked into the tree lab) and made a set of proactive guidelines to share with middle and lower school students. 
2013Classes gave specific feedback about their transitions to their current grade. Faculty used the feedback to enhance program.
YearlyEach spring, classes select their themes for middle school "Spirit Week." Examples include: Time Travel Day, Superhero Day, Favorite Fictional Character Day, Random Day and el Dia de Espanol.