Jack Henry, a ninth-grader, was selected as the official representative. Eighth-grader Isaac Calderon was chosen as his alternate.
Both students have ideas and goals they plan to pursue this year, and even have a few years of student representation experience under their belts as part of the Student Council. Henry served as treasurer last year and is now the current president. Calderon is this year’s vice president.
Henry said he learned about the school board opportunity last year when the Student Council met with Superintendent Lisa Wiles. He jumped at the chance and began attending and observing Board of Education meetings with last year’s representative, getting to know how meetings are conducted.
“I enjoyed it, and started to get more confident. I found my comfort zone,” Henry said in a press release. He even gave a presentation at one of last year’s meetings when the standing representative was not there.
This year, Henry has been busy meeting with the board every other week. He would like to focus his efforts on improving student attendance and creating a thriving school culture. Referring to the isolation of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic era and the pervasive problem of bullying, he said that there is sometimes a lack of trust among his peers. “Some students aren’t feeling comfortable and worry about bullying,” he said.
“I care about the students here,” Henry added. “I want everyone to be excited to come to school every day, and feel like they belong.”
But Henry is hopeful that student relationships can improve. “Our school has a lot of potential to be a great school,” he said. “We have great teachers and a great principal. And there are a lot of exciting events coming up, such as the pep rally and Homecoming dance, where we can come together as a
In addition, Henry would like to increase student involvement by helping others get their ideas for after-school clubs up and running. Since this requires a presentation before the board, as well as securing a faculty adviser, an advocate like Henry could be very advantageous. He already has one student in mind and plans to help him make his idea a reality. “
Calderon would also like to give a voice to students who suffer the sting of bullying. “I think we should focus on educating ourselves and others on what bullying is,” he said. “Often students may think of some behaviors as ‘just a joke,’ and we need to look closely at what a joke really is.
“Then we can bring out the better side of our school,” Calderon added.
Wiles values the importance of having students on the school board. “For many years now, Ellenville has had student representatives on the board,” she said in the release. “They bring the voice of the student body and much valuable information to both the board and the community. We look forward to working with them.”