Guide Lisa Masi

It was wonderful to see representatives from all of the class groups take part in the assembly this week. Choosing class names is a dearly held tradition at RVCS.

Students actively research and decide upon a name that is supported by all students in the class group. It was determined early on in the process of creating our school that the founders, Trustees, staff and students would do work through the process of consensus. It is not easy, especially in a culture where democratic voting is valued and practiced. Although the democratic process is valuable and has, indeed, allowed our nation to flourish, consensus allows all of our community to be heard.

“Consensus decision making is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, a consensus group is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports – or at least can live with. This makes sure that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. By listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone. Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity – it aims to go further by weaving together everyone’s best ideas and most important concerns – a process that often results in surprising and creative solutions, inspiring both the individual and the group as whole.”

Students and class groups use consensus in various ways throughout the day and year, from deciding on a class name to deciding between making raspberry jam or autumn olive leather. Although the impact of each consensus decision is different, the process remains important and respectful of all of the students involved.

I have heard some observers wonder why consensus is important, and certainly why we have to celebrate the process and outcome of things such as class names at assemblies. I would offer the following: because it is a celebration of everyone being a part of a community. As we tell students throughout the process, consensus is about everyone being heard. The outcome may not be something that one expected, nor may it be something for which one is particularly excited. It may be uncomfortable. But it is a process that allows everyone to be okay with a decision, no matter what that decision ends up being.

So I offer my thanks to those who participate in and observe our assemblies where we celebrate that each person is respected enough to be heard and considered. Respect is one of the core values at RVCS. Consensus is such a valuable way to embody respect for all of our community. I am grateful that our students are learning that they are worthy of being respected and to respect.