When they speak, people listen.
Mercer Island High School students Paul Noone and Morgan Dawson are deeply involved in the school scene and receive ideas and feedback on vital issues from their fellow students across the district. As this year’s student board representatives, the duo is ready to let its voice be heard.
“They actually value what you say,” Noone said of the district administration and board members. “I thought that was pretty impactful, just knowing as a student, you have a voice and you can make change and advocate for what you want in school.”
Noone is a senior and began his second year as a representative this month, and it’s junior Dawson’s first year in this position. This is the third year of the program and reps serve two-year terms.
“I’m excited to get to reach out through my community and get to hear what people at the elementary school are experiencing, at the middle school and also at my high school. Kind of get a broader range of community perspective is gonna be really cool,” Dawson said.
Some of the main issues on the high-school front, according to Noone, were how class rankings affect students’ mental health along with their college application process, and decorating graduation caps.
In early September, Noone and Dawson began their brainstorming process en route to compiling their first monthly student report to present at the school board meeting. Along with touching upon positive things students have been experiencing, Dawson anticipates some challenges students may be facing with the virtual learning model.
“I’m staying tuned into what my friends are saying, what students are not liking about it, and also what they do like about it and just making sure that I can communicate that,” she said. “That’s really important, and I feel like student voice really does have a pretty big impact on the decisions that are made.”
It’s been a rewarding experience for Noone, who not only thrives on advocating for the students, but forming relationships with the administrators and board members. He’s gained confidence each step of the way.
“I’ve liked public speaking, just presentations in class before, but I didn’t really know exactly what I was in for,” said Noone, who received invaluable mentoring from one former rep. During the application process, reps receive recommendations from teachers and are interviewed for the spot.
Added Dawson: “It seemed really up my alley because I’m really into writing and public speaking and I do my school’s newspaper and I love journalism, so the interview was pretty fun.”
The reps serve on several committees and also attend meetings of the student advisory, which features students in grades 5-12 who gather with superintendents each month. Last year, the reps attended Day on the Hill with elected officials and others at the state capitol building in Olympia.