Unlike our Annual Town Meeting that only drew 300 Westborough voters on a March Saturday afternoon this year, the auditorium was packed to standing room only for yesterday's student-run WHS Mock Town Meeting. Sure, the students all had to be there; their Town Meeting was held during a late morning mandatory attendance school-wide assembly. But still, to see a full auditorium and a fully engaged audience was a darn inspiring experience to enjoy.
There were only two articles on the mock warrant yesterday, each of which independently requested funding for an alternative energy source to power the high school. High school chemistry teacher Dr. Tari Varco-Shea had assigned her honors chemistry students with this project months ago, and the two presentations yesterday, one advocating installng vertical wind turbines and the other promoting solar power, were the most exemplary projects her students produced.
But this wasn't just about science. And that's the best thing about it. Every student involved had to use skills they'd learned and practiced in their other classes. They had to use math to manage their mock budgets and calculate realistic costs and energy efficiencies. They had to use what they'd learned in English to write advertisements, handouts and presentation speeches. They had to use art to create compelling and appealing advertisements, posters and presentations. And all together, the project was really a lesson in civic responsibility and what it means to make history, which is what social studies is all about.
And what a great living lesson! Town Moderator Joe Harrington was on stage to lead a straight-forward, orderly and enthusiastically attentive meeting. Town Manager Jim Malloy and Assistant Town Manager Kristi Williams sat up front with the student Board of Selectmen. Finance Committee Chair John Arnold, Superintendent Marianne O'Connor and Assistant Superintendent Daniel Mayer were in the audience as were other administrators and town officials. But the focus, as intended, was all on the students who made interesting, intelligent and compelling presentations, asked informed questions from the audience and behaved respectfully while listening to both sides of the issue before casting their votes. All good stuff and a real thrill to see in action!