The combined student bodies of Rockland District and Georges Valley High schools came together for the first time on Monday, Dec. 20, to begin merging student governments and, more importantly, student traditions.

The assembly was held in the auditorium at RDHS and was attended by students in grades 9 through 12. With a seating capacity of 578, the auditorium was packed, and teaching staff was consigned to standing room only.

Members of the student senates at both high schools have been working on a series of bills designed to bring about as smooth a transition as possible to the high school merger that takes place next September. Under the already-approved merger plan, the newly named Oceanside High School will house grades 10, 11 and 12 in what is currently RDHS and grades 8 and 9 at what is currently GVHS.

Catherine “Cat” Fletcher, president of the Student Senate and a senior at RDHS, said in a news release that she thinks the assembly was a good beginning for what will be a dramatically different school configuration next year. Both student bodies are interested in maintaining some of their individual traditions, she said, and the work of the two student legislative groups was a chance to begin the process.

In November, the two groups met for an all-day workshop designed to come up with proposed bills to put before the combined student bodies. The Dec. 20 assembly at RDHS was held for that purpose.

At the workshop, student senate members broke up by class, with each recommending a policy or combination of traditions to be passed on to the high school administration for consideration.

“Students at both high schools believe it is important to keep the most important traditions,” said Fletcher, adding that everyone worked hard at cooperation.

Ben Wallace, president of the junior class at Georges Valley, echoes Fletcher’s sentiment.

“I was really impressed how everyone went into it [the workshop] with open minds,” Wallace said.

Matters presented for discussion included proposals for moving to a 10-point grade scale and combining various components of each high school’s spirit week and homecoming. A plan was put forward, and adopted by both student senates, for a one-year transition in the composition of the student government at Oceanside High School.

Fletcher said the process was a good chance for students at each high school to get together and get to know each other. That process will continue on Friday, Jan. 7, when RDHS hosts a “black light” dance for students at both high schools.

Both Fletcher and Wallace said that based on what they experienced in the workshop and from what they saw at the combined assembly, the students at what will be Oceanside High School are off to a good start.