AYERSVILLE — While attending the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Capital Conference in 2019, Ayersville Local Board of Education member Char Ondrus attended a session on how schools had student representatives at school board meetings.
Ondrus really liked the idea, and had hoped to help Ayersville High School (AHS) implement a similar program before the end of the 2020 school year. Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans. Ondrus, however, was undeterred.
In working with AHS principal Rob Luderman, guidance counselor Augusta Niese and class advisor LuAnn Froelich, it was decided student council members of the junior and senior class would attend board meetings to present information, and serve as liaisons to the student body.
“The last time I attended (OSBA) Capital Conference, at one of the sessions the topic of student reps attending board meetings came up,” said Ondrus. “During the question-and-answer part of the session, I learned several schools in the state were doing it. I also learned there were many different ways schools were selecting students to serve in this role.
“When I mentioned it (to the board and administration) I thought this was a good idea, Rob stepped up and said, ‘We have class officers who could easily fill that role,’” added Ondrus. “So Rob, Augusta, LuAnn and I met with the kids, and they seemed gung-ho about it, which was great.”
Luderman explained having members of the student council attend board meetings fell in line with ideas he had already been tossing around.
“Prior to learning about it, I was looking for a way to get our student government more involved, so I saw this as a great opportunity,” said Luderman. “To be honest, being a class officer doesn’t come with a lot of duties, except for juniors who help with prom and seniors who help with graduation. These kids are elected by the student body as leaders, and this goes along with a plan I had to put these leaders in more leadership roles.”
At the April board meeting, junior class president Jacob Stiltner, vice president Maci Froelich and secretary Haleigh Wright were in attendance to share plans about prom (treasurer Hailey Bok was unable to attend due to softball).
Froelich and Stiltner shared that they felt representing their class at that meeting was a “good opportunity.”
“I thought it was great to take part in what’s going on with the board,” said Froelich. “We gave an update on prom, and it was good to be able to share that. I hope we can share more with the board about what we (the students) are thinking and feeling, and take back what we learn to everyone.”
Said Stiltner, who also serves as FFA president: “I got a taste for it last year (attending board meetings) when we were going through our levy campaign. There was talk about FFA being on the chopping block, so FFA really helped campaign for the levy. We know how that program improves the school and has an economic impact on the community.”
When the board meets May 17, senior class members of student council will be there to share information about graduation. Senior class officers include: Ryan Clark, president; Allison Engel, vice president; Nicole Fishpaw, secretary; and Kaylor Martin, treasurer.
“When we first learned (we would be attending school board meetings), I was interested but I didn’t know the route it would take or how involved we would be,” said Clark. “We are going to share an update on our plans for graduation, but I’m looking forward to hearing about what they (the board) want to do with the school, so I can give a student’s perspective on those choices.”
Fishpaw, who is also looking forward to the May meeting, explained how student council plans to share information from the board to the student body.
“I’m very interested in going this month, because I’ve never been to a board meeting, so to learn what the board is doing, and to be able to share our plans for graduation will be exciting,” said Fishpaw. “All of the information we learn at the board meetings will be published in our school newspaper each month.”
Luderman shared he knows there will be tweaks to how this all unfolds when student council members attend board meetings when the 2021-22 school years begins. He’s excited about the learning and leadership opportunities for those students.
“Moving forward, I plan to meet with class officers from all four classes, even though only our upperclassmen will attend meetings,” said Luderman. “I want to talk about what’s happening at the board level, what we need to present to the board, what opinions we can share with the board, and what opinions do they want us to share with them.”