Students Participate in Democracy and Make Their Voices Heard


What makes the Academy here at Hills so special? The rigorous academics? Maybe. The high achieving students? Perhaps. Many Academites would agree that the heart of why the Academy is so unique is its collection of diverse backgrounds and personalities. So when sweeping changes to the program were announced in late November, concerned Academy students who wanted a voice leapt into action. Students—Dmitri Ahn-Mihn Tran ‘22, Frederick (Jack) Laudati ‘22, Koda Gursoy ‘22, Karl Stolze ‘22 and Aditya Karsala ‘23, just to name a few—took matters into their own hands by voicing their opinions at a Morris Vocational School District board meeting. In their pitch to the Board, they argued that the proposed changes, which included eliminating Z-block to create a large focus on engineering, would change the Academy’s culture for years to come. 

At the Nov. 1 Board Meeting, these students came prepared and poised to make a change. Koda Gursoy, AMSE 22’, remarked that such changes would result in “Academy students only seeing half of their fellow peers” during freshman year, ultimately hindering students’ abilities to work together. Karl Stolze, another Academy senior, ended his speech by reminding the Board members how “the Academy isn’t just some statistic, some tax dollar drain that needs to be optimized” and that “there are actual people involved, people who love it more than they can love anything else.” 

Ultimately, these students were successful! What they’ve shown us is that change, no matter how big or small, starts grassroots, and those in charge are always willing to take input from the program’s stakeholders to help foster a strong program. In the future, striking a balance between the Academy’s engineering-centric purpose and the students’ community-first viewpoint will be very important. We all want to see the Academy succeed, and that vision involves the administration working with the student body to get the best result for everyone.