Thursday October 16, 2014
When community members attend a South Burlington school board meeting whether in person or virtually through RETN, they have the opportunity not only to witness the discussion of school related topics from the perspective of board members, but they also have the chance to hear from two high school students. At each meeting, there is time carved out on the agenda for the student representatives to give a report on school happenings. Each fall the Student Council elects a new junior class representative, after nomination by his/her peers. This year, Nirali Desai will be joining senior Neerja Patel at the Wednesday evening meetings to offer her perspective on school matters.
Why did Desai want to join the school board?
“I really wanted to be on the school board as a student representative because I think education is a great avenue to be able to advocate for change. While
the South Burlington School District is exceptionally sufficient in providing education to students, there can always be improvements and I want to help facilitate them,” Desai said.
The most important issues for Desai concern education, particularly universal access not only to classes, but also to extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs. Desai feels this type of involvement is vital even if it does not directly correlate with class content because it helps students become passionate about school activities beyond letter grades.
Desai is involved with a host of extracurricular activities including the South Burlington Varsity Dance Team, serving as a State Officer for DECA - a business organization, co- president of International Culture and Cuisine Club, member of the student council, and Regional President of Technology for Tomorrow, which is a local 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The non-profit offers free technology education to the community, specifically the older population, making this happen with the assistance of high school volunteers.
“This work is not only bringing the community closer together, but is incredibly reward- ing, as I’ve been able to connect with so many individuals outside of my demographic,” Desai said. In addition, Desai loves spending time with her family and friends doing classically “Vermont” things like exploring Burlington, eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and visiting Stowe.
As a participant in school board meetings, Desai hopes to gain an understanding of the process of making changes in education and in the school environment. She also wants to broaden her knowledge on the processes behind making decisions on topics or issues that could potentially affect a number of students.
“I think just seeing the various discussions that take place could really revolutionize the ways I approach different situations in my own life,” Desai said. Desai feels her unique vantage point as a student will be an asset to the board. “I hope I’m able to relay a clear version of a classic high school student’s life, and to hopefully inspire some new ideas.”
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent