“Ow!” Clay felt something under his foot and looked up to see a small 2nd grade girl, wincing in pain.
“Sorry!” he called out as he hurriedly pushed his way forward through the chaotic scene. It was the same old routine every day for Clay and his fellow 4th and 5th grade classmates – a mad rush to the back door to secure their seats on the back of the bus.
Through the bus window, he saw Mrs. Brown and Mr. Kirkpatrick doing their best to keep the free-for-all under control
Wednesday morning, Clay and his classmates were called down to the cafeteria for a school-wide assembly, where the new rules about getting on the school bus were announced – everyone would now have to board from the front.
“This isn’t fair!” he complained to his friend Malcolm. “Now we’ll never get to sit together at the back!”
His classmate nodded in agreement, adding, “And student government is away on a field trip today. Did they even have a chance to vote on this?!”
Clay sat in the middle of the bus, fuming. He thought about what he learned about government and legislature during Micro. He grabbed a notebook from his backpack and wrote at the top, “Say NO To The New Bus Rules.” He signed his name, and passed it around to his friends. “Sign the petition!” he cried out. “The new bus rules are unfair!”
By the next morning, he had 65 signatures. He ripped out the pages and handed them to Mrs. Brown. “We don’t agree with the new bus rules. Especially because they were passed without a vote from the student government.”
“You’re right, Clay,” she said after looking over the petition. “We need to do something about the bus lines. But making rules without telling the elected members of the student government wasn’t the right thing to do. Why don’t we bring this up at the next meeting?”
Several days later at the student government assembly, a few brave students from each grade level spoke out.
“I’m tired of being squished like a peanut butter sandwich at the bottom of a backpack,” one 3rd grader said as the room filled with laughter.
“I’m not trying to knock anyone over. I’m just trying to get on the bus like everyone else,” a 5th grader pleaded his case.
Eventually, after some back-and-forth, representatives from each grade reached an agreement about the new bus rules. Each grade would get their turn to board first, but everyone would enter the bus from the front door from now on.
The student government president read the final, agreed-upon rules to the room, then turned to Clay, holding up his petition.
“Rules are necessary. But as Clay reminded us, we all should have a say and work together to make laws.”
As he headed off to the bus at the end of the day, Clay stopped to let a 2nd grader get on ahead of him. “Just don’t sit in row 22,” he said half-joking. “That’s my seat.”