Thursday, May 24, 2012

Experiencing My First School Board Meeting

As I stepped through the doors of LeVonya DeJean Middle School, I was met with the sight of many people milling around in the auditorium, waiting for the school board meeting to start. I had never been to a school board meeting before this evening, and it was an interesting new experience; I was surprised as well as encouraged to see that so many people were attending the meeting. After brief greetings to some fellow ILCers, I sat down near the rest of my ILC cohort and took in the scene around me as the meeting adjourned. I was not sure about how school board meetings took place, and was curious to know more about them. Looking at the agenda, which was laid out on a piece of paper, I found that it was packed with subjects and issues related to the school community, and that the meeting was expected to last until 10:30 PM! This made me realize how incredibly hard school board members work to resolve district issues and address the public's needs.

After introductions, roll call, and some other preliminary actions by the school board members, the microphone was turned over to the public. About 17 community members spoke at the meeting regarding the funding of adult education in the school district, specifically funding for adult ESL programs. I was interested to hear the perspectives of various different people on this topic, and was inspired by the passion of all the people who attended the meeting tonight in order to make their voices heard.

Next on the agenda after these public speeches was the Ivy League Connection Presentation. The cohorts were called up one by one, and each student was introduced briefly to the school board members and the rest of the attendees of the meeting. Then, the members of the school board each gave short speeches saying what the ILC means to them and to the district. These speeches showed me that participating in the ILC is an important opportunity to represent our district in a positive light. After this, two former participants of the ILC gave inspiring speeches. Austin Long talked to us about overcoming obstacles that we may have within ourselves, and related this to his experience with ILC. I especially enjoyed hearing Terilyn Chen talk about her experience with the ILC and how she felt that her experience changed her as a person, allowing her to "expect the unexpected" throughout her life. She also told us a little bit about her experience in applying for college, which was entertaining as well as informational.

After the ILC presentation, Don gathered the students, parents, and chaperons all together in order to take a massive group picture (or rather, 24 massive group pictures - Don needs multiple shots because inevitably, at least one person always blinks in every picture). I really enjoyed the whole experience this evening, because I had so much to learn about school board meetings and the topics that were discussed in this meeting. I also felt honored to be recognized in front of the school board as part of ILC. I am even more excited to attend the Brown University dinner in San Francisco next Wednesday, when I will have the opportunity to talk with Brown alumni, the other ILC students, and other people associated with ILC.

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