Last Wednesday, the South Eastern Regional Student Advisory Council (SERSAC) held its orientation for the 2014-2015 school year. Located at the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School, the orientation taught newly-elected student representatives about how the Student Advisory Council is organized and about what the students may be working on next year.
This state-wide council is made up of five regional councils (south east, western, central, north east, and greater Boston). At their regional orientations, each council elects a leadership board that will also attend State Student Advisory Council meetings at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden every other month. The State Student Advisory Council then elects one chairperson who becomes a voting member on Massachusetts’s Board of Education throughout the year.
Old Rochester Regional High School sent two new student representatives to SERSAC’s orientation last Wednesday: Jacob Spevack and Sahil Raje were elected by their peers to be ORR’s voice at the regional council during the 2014-2015 school year. These two freshmen proved themselves to be dedicated and ambitious representatives. At the regional orientation, each ran for a delegate position on the state council. ORR is proud to say Spevack was elected as one of eight state delegates, and Raje was elected as a first alternate delegate.
Next year, the council will choose an issue to tackle throughout their meetings. This past year, the students chose to work on digital learning. The state council created a model policy on digital learning for schools to consider, while the regional councils worked on various projects, including an instructional PowerPoint presentation about online resources and a public service announcement video on the use of technology in the classroom. At the orientation last Wednesday, students were encouraged to consider what topic they’d like to tackle next year.
“I am excited to hear and discuss the issues from schools around the state. There is no doubt that all schools could use a little improvement, and more often than not many schools have similar problems,” said Spevack. “One topic that was brought up at the orientation was the lack of life preparation programs in schools. This could range from learning to manage debt, to learning where to go to vote, to learning how to make a résumé. I think installing programs like these would be an excellent goal for the year and something that would help schools all over the state.”
At Student Advisory Council, grand goals such as these are a reality. Since its foundation in 1971, the council has shown that when they come together, students can have a big impact on their education. This fact was shared with the students at the SERSAC orientation.
“I’d say my biggest takeaway was the influence that I realized students could really have. It wasn’t one of those groups that discusses ideas but couldn’t actually do anything,” Spevack said. Commenting on the fact that Student Advisory Council places a member on the Board of Education, he said, “That’s a direct way for us to make change.”
Now that he’s prepped for next year, Spevack is excited to meet new people and dive into Student Advisory Council. “Representing others and communicating for change is to me beginning to become somewhat of a passion,” said Spevack, “and I am excited to pursue that next year and hopefully for the coming years as well.”
With Spevack and Raje as their ambitious delegates, ORR will be well-represented at the state and regional Student Advisory Council next year.
In other news, ORR’s AFS cultural club had a busy meeting last Tuesday. The club presented English teacher Kathleen Brunelle and Vice Principal Michael Parker with gifts from the club’s trip to Arcola, Illinois last month.
Parker was given a T-shirt in thanks for all the support he’s given the AFS club. Brunelle received an Amish cookbook and a Raggedy Ann doll, since Arcola is the home of Raggedy Ann. “I thought that it would be a nice gift for her little daughter from us, because [Brunelle] did a presentation about her book to the students when the Arcola students came here,” said the AFS club advisor Kim Corazzini.
Also at AFS club’s last meeting, foreign exchange student Louisa Truss gave a presentation about her home in Germany. This is a presentation that every foreign exchange student gives to the AFS club towards the end of the year.
“So many times when the kids come here, they integrate into the school so well, eventually that we forget that they’re from another country,” explained Corazzini.
Commenting on how the students of ORR learn a lot from these types of presentations, she said, “They’re always interested in the educational system; they’re always interested in that person’s home and their family in the country where they’re from, and I think that it gets the kids to know the foreign exchange students a little better.”
The AFS club is certainly valuable to ORR, bringing acceptance and culture into the school. The club is currently looking for foreign exchange student host families for the 2014-2015 school year. For more information, visit www.afsusa.org/host-family.
By Renae Reints