Opinion Column: East-West collaboration is valuable and should increase


The Cherry Hill High School East Board of Education Representative Instagram page, ran by Aiden Rood.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a new kind of event in the Cherry Hill Public Schools district: a joint East-West student town hall meeting. The results were highly encouraging, and I hope to see more of such events in the future.

Organized by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche, the event took place at Cherry Hill High School West on January 31, 2023. Around a half dozen East students rode a bus from Cherry Hill High School East to West for the event. After leaving at 10 a.m, we participated in over two hours of productive discussions and then returned to East around 12:30 p.m.

Through the event’s town hall format, students were able to ask questions and make comments about a variety of topics while engaging with Meloche and both high schools’ principals, who also attended. As student representative to the Board of Education at East, I worked with my counterpart at West to create a list of potential topics to discuss at the town hall, which included academic competitiveness, class levels, student voice, supporting our teachers, mental health, and more.

I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with students from West. As students who are part of the same community but have different school experiences, we all benefit from dialogue that creates shared understanding and progress around district issues. It was valuable to hear from West students who had unique perspectives on issues that student leaders often also discuss at East. For example, students from both schools shared insight on the competitive nature of class rank, with an array of perspectives contributing to different possible actions that students could propose to Dr. Meloche. With some nearby school districts doing away with class rank, it’s critical that any similar conversations in our town take place with input from students at all of the district’s schools, which can happen through events like the joint town hall.

With this joint town hall being the first of its kind in many years, I want to urge students and administrators alike to ensure that it is not the last. In the future, I hope to see multiple joint town halls taking place every school year, with students from East, West and the Alternative High School coming together to learn from each other and share ideas. Student voice is more important in education today than ever before. Joint town halls are one way that students can be heard in the process of shaping their educational experiences; I hope to see them continue.