New school board should prioritize student voices

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

Last Tuesday’s elections voted in a new USD 383 school board and the results brought both experienced and new candidates to the board for their four-year term. Members Kristin Brighton and Brandy Santos were elected for their first term. Curt Herrman and Darell Edie and were reelected  to their positions on the USD 383 board.

It is the opinion of The Mentor Editorial Board that these newly elected administrators need to continue and expand upon their efforts to incorporate the position of the student body into their decisions and policy-making. 

USD 383’s school board has done an exemplary job so far of incorporating students’ opinion into their decisions. This has been shown by actions such as the passing of the transgender guidelines and the ongoing process of allowing the students to choose if they wanted a preformance mascot. However, the people who elect the school board are not — for the most part — students, they are our parents and other adults in the community. It’s therefore understandable that members would focus on the adult point of view. 

The most important idea the editorial board would like to impart on our new and returning members is the need to consider the students’ view when making policies. We are the ones being impacted on a daily basis by the decision the board makes, not our parents. 

While the stereotype of a highschool student isn’t a particularly a responsible, forward-thinking persona, the reality is that a majority of us are capable of understanding the policies that would help us and our school. The point of highschool is to prepare students for their lives as adults. If we don’t engage in policies that affect us because we feel like we have no place in doing so, we will lack experience in picking candidates and engaging in our communities required of active adult citizens. The more members of the school board listen to those who they directly affect the better Manhattan High can be.

That said, it’s the responsibility of students to keep up with local government and let their voices be heard. The board has a good relationship with Student Council and us as student media at current. It is essential that this is continued and expanded upon, both the school board and students could do more to establish a better relationship. High school students rarely attend board meetings — many don’t even know their representatives’ names. Involvement is limited even on top issues that directly affect day-to-day life at MHS, like Michael Dorst being appointed principal last year. There are more students willing to engage than this lets on. If an initiative was to be taken to inform students about local problems we would have a better high school and community.

It is easy to ignore seemingly trivial local affairs when students are constantly bombarded with news at the national and international level. Many of us focus our attention onto these hot-button topics and national elections when they are much less likely to directly impact us than local government policies. 

If students and our new school board members work to continue to establish an open dialogue — something that Manhattan High students are more than capable of doing — it would make MHS a better place and better prepare students for their futures.