AMLE Announces Megha Shankri as Winner of International Middle School Student Voice Contest

Megha Shankri - Student Voice Winner

For Immediate Release

November 7, 2021

Students competed for the top prize at the AMLE21 annual conference for middle level education

Columbus, OH  — The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) announced today that Megha Shankri, an 8th grade student from Branchburg Middle School in New Jersey, had won its inaugural Great Middle School Student Voice Off Contest. Riley Sipe, a 6th grade student from Sutton Middle School in Atlanta, Georgia, placed second. The students had advanced from the semi-final round where they made the winning arguments in their respective debates about the use of homework and dress codes in middle school. In the final round, Megha and Riley crafted responses to the prompt, “What are the qualities of a good leader and what opportunities should middle school give to set you on that path?” Full recordings of both rounds of competition are included below.

“We are FALCON PROUD of Megha Shankri,” said Suzanne Updegrove, Megha’s teacher who supported her entry into the contest. “She has been developing her leadership skills all throughout middle school with the support of her teachers, advisors and administrators. She is always looking for ways to make a difference in school and out and encouraging others to do the same. GREAT JOB MEGHA!”

The Great Middle School Student Voice Off Contest is an international competition in which kids aged 10-15 make persuasive arguments for and against important issues impacting their daily lives as students, in this instance the use of homework and dress codes in middle school. Hundreds of passionate students from around the world participated by submitting video arguments in the category of their choosing. The contest is designed to emphasize and raise awareness of the importance of engaging students as active participants in their own schooling. In its landmark position paper on best practice in the middle grades, The Successful Middle School: This We Believe, AMLE articulates that middle grades students benefit from democratic approaches to education that involve students regularly in shared decision making.

“Congratulations to Megha and a huge thank you to all of our competitors and their sponsoring teachers,” said Jim Barnes, Chair of the AMLE Board of Trustees. “They did an exceptional job of representing their school communities and the viewpoints of their middle grades students around the world.”

“These students truly stole the show at the conference,” added Stephanie Simpson, CEO of AMLE, “We learned so much from them and are so grateful for their participation. Congratulations to Megha on being our inaugural champion, and to Riley for placing second despite being among the youngest students to enter. In particular, their support and kind words for each other during the competition was a reminder that we have so much to learn from middle school students.”

The contest was held in conjunction with #AMLE21, the 48th annual conference for middle level education.

Final Round

Semi-Final Round


About the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)

The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) is an international membership organization that helps middle grades educators reach every student, grow professionally, and create great schools.

Media Contact

Stephanie Simpson | AMLE | 800-528-6672 | | @AMLE