LAHS students sought for board

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Education > Enhancing communication is the goal for members

By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos School Board is seriously considering adding another member to the five member board and maybe even two.
However, qualifications the board has set for these members rules out the majority of Los Alamos residents as the board is looking for just high school students.
The idea is to enhance communications between the board and the high school’s student body so the board can make better and more informed decisions that impact the students. The board also hopes to instill a few civics lessons into the students as well.
Recently, School Board Vice President Matt Williams communicated with Los Alamos High School Council President Esteban Abeyta and LAHS Council Vice President Jessica Hieroninus about the issue, as well as Debbie Belew-Nyquist, the school’s principal.
According to Williams’ comments at the meeting, a number of ways to bring the new members into the fold are being considered, either through appointment by the high school’s student council or by the high school’s administration. Williams said Nyquist thought appointment by the administration might be the best solution.
“She strongly advocated for the high school administration to put forth nominations,” Williams said. “She felt that the teachers in the administration that worked with the students could put forth someone who may be lesser known, quieter, but perhaps more insightful and articulate. She felt she had a few very good candidates she could put forth as selections or for the board to down select.”
Belew-Nyquist also suggested to Williams that they select alternates, as the students may already have a busy academic and extracurricular schedule and so may need to take turns attending meetings.
Board member Jenny McCumber then asked a related and relevant question that drew some laughs from the other board members.
“While I would want to see student participation and collaboration with the board… I’m also looking at my watch and it’s 9:20 (p.m.). How would this not be a punishment to the students who have a lot of homework? What type of participation would be the most beneficial to students but without being such as burden?” she said.
Williams suggested they rearrange the agenda so they students could leave the meeting in a timely manner while at the same time getting the most benefit from participation.
McCumber pressed further, asking what particular benefits students could get from attending meetings that they couldn’t get through some other alternative means.
WIlliams brought up recent subjects they would have been interested in, such as a discussion about funding the high school’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Board member Bill Hargraves suggested letting students who were interested in serving submit their own names directly, rather than through the student council or the school administration.
“I don’t like putting an adult in between a child choosing to want to participate or not... If they want to participate on the board, let them submit their own name.”
Board President Jim Hall then asked if it would be better to invite students to particular meetings who may be involved in a certain issue or organization that’s on the board agenda, or appoint permanent representatives. Hall then suggested to Williams that he meet with representatives from the student council and get further input.