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SCOPE participants include, front row from left, Mason Hall and Maggie McClain, students from CCHS; Mitch Lowe, CCHS AP; and Pam Warrington, Phoenix High School teacher. In back are Chase Findley, SMHS teacher; Spencer Moore and Erin Rassel, SMHS students; and Sydney Heddleston, Phoenix High School student.

More than 349 high school students gathered in Murfreesboro on March 5 to express their views on public education in Tennessee at the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) Student Congress on Policies in Education (SCOPE). The event took place on the Middle Tennessee State University Campus.

Now in its 37th year, SCOPE is designed to give students a voice where public education issues are concerned and to involve young people in finding solutions to the topics that are discussed. Attendees participated in mock school board sessions, where they assumed the roles of school board members, school officials, parents, students and concerned citizens. The sessions were led by actual school board members, superintendents and education leaders from across the state.

During the afternoon session, students selected a speaker to represent each of their small groups to take part in full-scale debates on current education issues. This year’s four debate topics included:

• High school graduation requirements shall include several pathways/options (college and career, industry credentials, etc.) that allow students to graduate with a regular high school diploma.

• Students shall have the option of substituting club sports for physical education requirements.

• Fighting on school grounds or during school activities shall be a zero-tolerance offense.

For purposes of honors recognition at graduation, the board shall use the Latin System (i.e. summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) instead of selecting a valedictorian and salutatorian. 

Following each debate, participants had the opportunity to vote to support or oppose the debate issues by participating in an online, SMS texting survey. 

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