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Proposition for Change GWA

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This email was recently sent to the senior staff of GWA. It lists the issues that face DP students and our suggestions on how to fix in order to make GWA the school it should be.

To the GWA Senior staff,
The following is a letter from a group of GWA DP students:
Much like Dubai itself, GWA is shiny on the surface yet rough and unpolished the moment you scratch away at the lacquer that is the incredible resources and smiling faces of both the faculty and student body. As students, we live and face these imperfections on a daily basis. They cut at us and slowly erode away at our liking for school, resulting in talk among the students about the need for change. However not once has an organized and determined group of individuals come together to face and tackle the unaddressed issues that not only stand in the way of our education, but in the way of our social lives and our sanity.
The first, and perhaps most significant of these issues is the lack of lunch break for the DP students. As faculty, we are sure you worked your hardest to come up with a fair compromise to accommodate both the DP students and the younger members of the GWA school community. There is no point in debating the reasons behind this unjust act of denying the oldest students a significant break throughout the day, the reason is simple - there are too many students attending GWA. This is not to say that you should proceed to reduce the student body, yet something must be done to address this problem. A few days into the school year, you began by giving us a 20 minute break between our 3rd and 4th periods, while still claiming that our so called lunch time is in period 7. Now, to somebody who has never spend a day with us at GWA, this would sound fair. However this is not the case, claiming that the 7th period is a lunch time is nothing but an act of deception that fools nobody except your selves into thinking we have an adequate amount of break time in a regular school day. This “lunch time” is nothing but another period in which you can go and purchase food if you are lucky enough to have a free during this time. The fact many people have class at this time means they often have to eat at other times of the day, meaning free periods are used for eating rather than for constructive purposes such as working on assignments.
Understandably you must take into the account the capacity of the GWA cafeteria and look at the health and safety risks of having both DP grades having lunch at the same time as the younger children who are understandably wary and unsure of our presence. However the lack of a standardized lunch break has caused a very negative effect on the communal aspect of school that is so important to people our age. The consequences of which include the absence of time to meet all the new students who joined our community this year, also the fact that many of us rarely see our friends during school due to non-coinciding schedules. Furthermore, we often have to go 4 or 5 hours without a break, meaning we are forced to take precious class time to refill our water bottles, eat a snack and go to the bathroom. Both mentally and physically, this cannot be healthy.
The increased number of students in the GWA corridors this year has resulted in extreme crowding throughout the school, most noticeably in the staircases. It can often take 5 minutes to rise 1 floor during the peak times of student traffic. It seems only ironic that we are prohibited from going to the cafeteria due to health and safety, yet all students are forced to use the stairs. Consider the following: A staggered scheduling system that would not require any changes in class rooms or teachers, but would simply mean that in a set order, groups of grades (let’s say 6-8, 9-10, 11-12) would be released from class within 5 minute intervals. This would dramatically clear both the stair cases and the hall ways, improving both the safety of students and lowering the number of late marks due to congestion in the corridors.
As discussed above, we believe that the social factor of school is equally important as the academic side. Yet the policies recently introduce to GWA has greatly impaired our ability to socialize with our peers inside of school. Policies such as the lunch time situation as previously mentioned, and of course, the rules in the DP lounge. By its very definition, a lounge is ‘a public room’ ‘in which to sit and relax’, however this is not what the GWA lounge is as used as. As a student body we are very unsure of the rules regarding behaviour is these areas because each time there is a different teacher on duty, the rules change. It is important to ensure all the teachers are on the same wave length as some are more laid back and allow the lounge to be more of a social study area, yet others enforce strict rules to reduce the noise level to little above zero and have prevented most interaction between students.
From our experience, we agree that it should be a study area, however some of the most effective study is conducted through the utilization of our peers knowledge and skills. Often this is impossible in the DP lounge, at which points we have been told to go to the cafeteria, an area on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Cafeteria is perfect for socializing over some lunch, however if you desire to hold an educated and informed conversation with your peers about the correct way to go about solving for x in a logarithmic equation then it is not the ideal place. It is loud, busy and when people are eating food at the same table it is not always safe to get out your laptop in the risk of having a drink spilt over it. Similarly, regularly people wish to study and complete homework over a snack or a sandwich; yet once again this too is prohibited in the lounge.
We are not suggesting you make the DP study area a lawless place of shouting and food fights, quite the contrary. We simply request that a slight change and standardization of rules takes place. First of all that all teachers are at the same level regarding noise level and other rules, secondly, that the accepted noise level is risen a fraction, after all, for those who want a proper quiet study room there is the assigned room on the first floor for this exact purpose. Lastly, that the consumption of food items such as sandwiches, snack bars and fruit is allowed providing people clear up after themselves. This would result in a more effective and friendly area in which student can catch up with their friends while they work.
On a closing note, it is important to realise in the sending of this email we do not intend to maim the student-teacher relationship that already exists. In fact, we send this in the hope that good should come of it (for both students and faculty). We understand that you do your best and work hard to accommodate our needs and set us up for success. By coming together as a group of students we feel that this letter will give a better insight to the minds and thoughts of the GWA students.
Lastly, it is important to know that this letter was not the doings of an individual, rather a collaborative effort of students who wish for a good school to become even better. We are more than open to any other ideas or compromises that you may wish to put forward regarding the above points.

Thank you for your time, and we await your response.

In order to make this change the senior staff requested that we provide evidence of our concerns as a collective student body.

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Thank you.

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