Apr 20 2018

School Board Meeting: Did Someone Say “Bird Call”?

The School Board meets every other week, but this meeting was different than the others. At some meetings there are lots of topics to cover and even contencios voting. Well other meetings, like this one, include the call of a Kakapo. However, on March 28th at 7 p.m. the School Board had very little to discuss and almost no voting. There were not a lot of decisions to make, because of this, the School Board spent the majority of the time focusing on events that were coming up or were currently going on within the high school.

The meeting began with Heather Frank, Executive Director of Piedmont Educational Foundation (PEF), updating the board on the Spring Fling. Every year PEF plans a Spring Fling with a different theme; this year’s is New Orleans themed. They hope to raise $400,000 and the biggest auction item is a trip to go on an African safari.

Following Heathers presentation Anna Goldberg, ASB Co-President of Piedmont High School, updated the board and listeners about what was going on in the high schoolers’ lives. She told them most seniors would be finished hearing from colleges within the next two weeks. Then she discussed how popular the Acapella Revue was. This topic was very exciting to the board and they started to discuss Mr. Joe Piazza, Acapella Teacher, and how he continues to amaze the town year after year.

Before the meeting started, I interviewed Heather and was surprised to find out that she comes to every meeting they have. This is because she frequently needs to update the School Board about what is happening at the Educational Foundation. Heather is not only in charge of spring fling, but all fundraisers for the schools in the District. She appreciates hearing from the students when they attend meetings and likes to hear the concerns they have. She shared that the meetings are typically small but if there is a community concern they can become very full.

Andreas Bjork and Nathan Horst were the first students to speak to the board. They chose to discuss the mountain biking team and its development. In the future, they are hoping to have their team recognized as an official Piedmont High School interscholastic team rather than a club, with the end goal being participants receiving PE credit. To my surprise, the board shared they were unable to respond to them on the topic of the mountain biking club because this was not on the original agenda, but expressed appreciation for the students’ input. Arguably, the highlight of the meeting came when Board President, Sarah Pearson, asked Andreas to perform his first prize winning bird call: the Kakapo. Andres thrilled the board by doing not just one call by this bird… but two calls, they were ecstatic.

Eva Hunter, PHS senior, next discussed her frustration with the inconsistency of athletic directors as well as the need for more female leadership in PHS sports. She noted that the vast majority of coaches, trainers and administrators are men. There has never been a female athletic director, and there is a perceived emphasis on men’s sports over women’s sports.

Immediately after Eva spoke, two students came to the podium one by one and spoke about their response to the Let’s Talk Assembly which took place earlier the week. The program had two parts; an assembly and one of the three sessions. Ms. Taylor was in charge of the assembly and was led by students in the acting class. One of the students who spoke at the meeting was in the assembly and felt that lots of students were impacted by the program. People had openly said having the assembly made it easier to talk about events they were struggling with in their lives without having to talk about it directly. The assembly included stories from actual students, similar to the date rape assembly which was held earlier in the year. The second student was in charge of facilitating one of the sessions. In her session they had sentences such as “ someone I really respect at this school is ____ or people think I am ___ but I feel I am ____” it seemed to help students openly discuss issues at the school.

The last speaker of the meeting was Michael Brady, Student Support Service at Piedmont Adult School, discussed the requirement for the school.  They have “issued over 300 diplomas since 2006, they have served over 1,300 people on independent study”. The Adult School also recognized it takes some students longer than others to accomplish graduation requirements. There have been a wide range of people who have attended the school, including the homeless, and incarcerated youth. Most of the students they serve are between 18-30 and 99% of them are from outside of Piedmont.

Attending a SchoolBoard meeting was fascinating to me because I better understood what goes on behind the scenes with the schools and what information is being relied to the board and see how many pieces of the puzzle are occurring without any knowledge from the students. It was very nice to see the effort the staff from PEF, the Adult School, Board members, and students put into making sure the high school is as enjoyable as it can be.

by Maya Marcus, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author. 

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