Jeff Hartwick, president of the Selah school board, says examining issues from various perspectives is key in running a successful school district. Among the most important of those perspectives, he says, are the opinions of the students.
Hannah Weeks and Daniel Herrera, both students at Selah High School, have taken on a unique leadership role to help inform the school board on those perspectives.
Weeks and Herrera are serving as the student representatives on Selah’s school board, acting as liaisons between the board and the student body.
“It’s super cool to see how it’s run and how the members take on their responsibilities so well,” said Weeks, a senior who has started her second year in the position. “They understand and want to make the best decisions for the district as a whole.”
The Selah school board is among 20% of school boards in the state that include representatives from the student body, according to the Washington State School Directors Association.
“Selah School District is proud to be in the minority by including student reps in the SSD boardroom,” Hartwick said.
Student representatives have been a part of the Selah school board for about seven years. In any given school year, a junior and senior student from Selah High School serve on the board. Once a student graduates, a new student from the current junior class is selected through an application process to serve a two-year term.
Herrera, a junior, was selected in late September to begin his term as a student representative. Motivated by his desire to advocate for his fellow students, Herrera has enjoyed his experience so far.
“A big thing that pushed me to do it is to give the student body a voice so the administrators can understand where we’re coming from,” Herrera said. “I like to get my point across without being disrespectful.”
Hartwick says he and his colleagues look forward to working with Herrera on the school board in the coming two years. And he views Weeks as someone who has been an asset to the group during her term as a student representative.
“Hannah’s been a delightful person to have on the board,” Hartwick said. “She listens and is engaged throughout the meeting and asks good questions.”
As student representatives, Weeks and Herrera attend school board meetings on a regular basis to share what is happening in schools, particularly activities taking place at the high school.
“The value that student reps bring is that they bring a student perspective,” said Hartwick. “(They) keep us grounded and keep us informed on what’s going on inside in the student world.
Hartwick acknowledges that he and his colleagues are unable to form a clear picture of the student body’s opinions without speaking with the students themselves. He says students have offered valuable insight on topics that directly impact the students of the Selah School District.
Weeks feels that she has benefited from the experience of serving on the school board. Not only has Weeks gained insight into the inner workings of the school district, she had the experience of traveling to Olympia and meeting with state legislators. Weeks says she valued the opportunity to have her voice heard by those in power.
Likewise, Herrera appreciates being a part of the school board and feels that the experience is helping him grow into a more professional person.
Weeks recommends that other students consider applying to be a student representative.
“Having the opportunity and taking it is super rewarding,” she said. “And you’ll see benefits — making connections with other community members and board members. Being a voice to the student body has been an opportunity that I’ll take to college and beyond.”