How the #studentvoice spoke back and refused to be silenced

November 24, 2016 23:06

He said, she said, this happened, that happened. Since news broke that JFS sent home 300 misbehaving pupils, I have heard multiple accounts of how the day unfolded.

Reports that often disagree and end up reducing themselves to squabbles over minute details.

But one element of the story is overwhelmingly consistent: the power of the united student voice.

This became clear to me early on Saturday morning, when I found my Twitter feed resounding with the loud cry of JFS.

Unhappy with the coverage their school had been receiving, pupils had taken matters into their smartphones and, using the Twitter hashtag #iloveJFSbecause, were telling the world why their school mattered to them.

Reasons varied, with comments ranging from the general, “they really enrich school life throughout the year, such as with the mock election, Yom Haatzmaut and Purim”, to personal testimonies — “I was in hospital for two years and they kept fighting for me to return, never giving up on me.”

They also stretched far and wide, with ex-alumni weighing in alongside current pupils. One said: “Twelve years on, I still have incredible friends, amazing memories and a bond with hundreds of people I meet year on year.”

Whether you agreed with them or not, there was no denying the force of their convictions.

Here were students who were galvanising the masses and rallying around their institution. They were rebelling against reports of rebellion and standing united — not in subservience, but defiance.

And in doing so, they were proving that, despite complaints of “generational apathy”, young people can rise up and make an impact. What is more, they can do so without donning balaclavas and wielding eggs and flour.

As well as the tweets that continued to appear well into the new week, some of which can be seen here, I was also inundated with emails echoing such sentiments.

Ella Taylor, 18, told me that she had launched the #iloveJFSbecause campaign because the school is “an enriching, welcoming and unique environment which makes a huge school a close-knit family”.

Her comments were echoed by Lucy Jawett, 17, who said that “JFS has the provision and the staff to develop and extend every ability and hidden talent we have”.

Jess Fishman, 18, said she loved her school because “when we come together, we are an unstoppable force. We are a community, all feeling the same hurt when someone ruins our reputation”.

Some comments also spoke out against the school, proving that people of all opinions were able to use social media to make their voices heard on a public platform.

In time, it is more than likely that the particulars of Thursday’s events will fade further.

But one thing we can all agree on is that, evidently, students will stand up for what they believe in. And believe me, their collective voice won’t be silenced.

A handful of the tweets that appeared:

November 24, 2016 23:06

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