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  • Cara DeBusk

Building Community through Justice


At HSS, conflict is resolved through the Judicial Committee system.

Any and all rules are created by anyone in the community and voted on in School Meeting. Many of the rules that were voted in this week are about treating each other respectfully and fostering an atmosphere in which all can exist peaceably.

Voting in rules in School Meeting

This week at HSS, we had our first JC. It involved a group of the younger girls and some strong feelings that resulted in a physical display of anger. Rather than arguing it out themselves or having an adult resolve it for them, they chose to write it up. The relief of having a system in place (not just one or two parents) to help them resolve the conflict was visible. The seriousness of the expectation of respect was felt by all. There was palpable excitement at the idea of our first JC and how it would go.

The next day,JC met. More than half the community joined in to watch. Everyone participated with excitement, tempered by earnestness. Even the youngest student participated fully and spoke her piece with gravity and thoughtfulness. The students and staff member serving on the JC were caring in their decision, seeking fairness and understanding.

First JC

The most touching moment was when in another case of hurt feelings, the complainant herself experienced shyness and fear in testifying and those against whom the complaint was made turned to her to offer comfort and support. The heart of this entire system was evident: building community, creating opportunities to practice compassion, and learning about human nature and relationships. After JC, everyone involved in the complaint seemed more secure in their bond, connected in the community and confident that fairness and respect are the core of culture of the school.

Making decisions

The Sudbury model of education is distinct in the level of responsibility each member of the community has for their own learning, but also in the way each member is responsible for determining rules and holding each other accountable for those rules. The model supports fairness protects the rights of all individuals at the school, fostering an atmosphere of trust and connectedness that is unique to Sudbury schools. This philosophy is grounded in reality at HSS.


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