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Student Voice: Meet our student advisors (11/6/18)

By: Clara Hall, Community Relations Intern (Timberline 2020)

One of the district’s goals centers around increased opportunities for student voice. That’s why superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens introduced the idea of having high school students serve on our School Board each year. Each semester two new Student Advisors are chosen by principals to be the voice of their respective high schools, as well as the voice of elementary and middle feeder schools. They attend an average of two board meetings per month where they are given a specific topic per meeting to research with their peers and discuss. The two student advisors who currently serve our district are Matthew Jenkins, a senior from River Ridge High School and Sophia Ahmed, a senior from Timberline High School. Here’s what they had to say about their new roles and responsibilities.

What exactly do you do as a student advisor?

Matthew  - “As a student advisor, I attend two board meetings per month. The topic of my first meeting was college and career centers. My job as a student advisor is to give a student’s perspective on each of these topics/issues as well as a school’s perspective. In addition to the student advisor topics, we are free to ask question or make comments about other topics that are discussed at each meeting.”

Sophia - “By being in this position I learned how district policies are made, and how community members are involved in that process.”

How have you personally benefited from filling this position?

Student Advisor at a board meeting Matthew - “This opportunity has benefited me by exposing me to a new environment I would not have otherwise been able to experience and to help me grow as a person.”

Sophia - “I attend Board meetings. For each meeting, student advisors are assigned a topic to talk about. I get to voice my opinion at each meeting.”

What advice do you have to other students?

Matthew - “My advice is to speak up; adults actually want to hear what we have to say.”

Sophia - “If you have a concern about the way things are done in our community, first learn about the topic, then voice your proposal. There are adults who can help you get involved.”

What have you learned from being in this position?

Matthew - “I have learned a lot about what’s going on in our school district, whether it’s the annexation of more land or the negotiation of salaries for office professionals.”

Student Advisor at a School Board meeting Sophia - “As a relatively more reserved person, I have learned to be a better public speaker.”

How do you think being in this position will benefit to your future?

Matthew - “I think this position will benefit my future because it has exposed me to a formal setting and has allowed me to become more comfortable speaking in front of others. It also has allowed me to think more deeply about what’s going on in my school community around me.”

Sophia - “Even though I've never been super interested in politics, I have learned that it is important for all voices to be heard and not just people who are super passionate about politics.I will definitely continue to be involved in politics by being informed and voting.”

What are some of your most memorable experiences in this position?

Matthew - “One of my favorite memories as a student advisor was at Olympic View Elementary where some of the board members joined the performing students to play the drums for the crowd.”

Sophia - “I love when we have our meetings and different elementary schools. The students always have a musical number and presentation at the beginning. I also especially liked it when we went to Olympic View and they did a cool musical number with drums. They had board members participate participate and I enjoyed meeting the elementary students.”  

Final Note:

Sophia - “The more I go to these board meetings, the more I learn about how positive and proactive our school district is always working towards goals and seeking improvement. I am so lucky to be able learn more about how lucky I am to have grown up in this community, thanks to our amazing School Board members who have been serving on the Board for years.”