Lake Oswego School Board welcomes new representatives
The Lake Oswego School Board recently welcomed two new student representatives for the 2022-23 academic year.
Jacob Stuckey, an incoming sophomore at Lakeridge High School, and Lake Oswego High School rising senior Samantha Jarquin will serve as liaisons between the school board and the student body. They are responsible for attending every board meeting and sharing student perspectives while weighing in on topics discussed at meetings.
The two students are following in the footsteps of Alicia Li and Emily Zou, who were advocates for diversity, accessibility and student mental health during their time. Throughout their year as student representatives, the incoming seniors prioritized student voices; some of the highlights were listening sessions with all secondary schools across the district as well as middle school focus groups.
Stuckey and Jarquin said they also plan to amplify student voices around diversity, mental health and inclusivity topics.
Stuckey has always been passionate about making a difference within his community, which is just one of the reasons he decided to apply for the student representative position.
The rising sophomore has loved volunteering for as long as he can remember and now wants to take on this new role to practice what he preaches.
"I've participated in Meals on Wheels with my grandpa and have always had a knack for helping my community. I also find the 'behind-the-scenes,' if you will, of running a school district super interesting and this opportunity really played into both of those," Stuckey said.
Stuckey was selected for the role because, although he has only been at the high school for a year, he has already established himself as a leader who sees all sides of an issue and how its solution can impact his peers positively.
Stuckey also was involved in a few extracurricular activities last year, including speech and debate, theater, club soccer and piano.
He said he is excited about the opportunity to influence decision-making and help the board understand what students are going through across the district. There are a couple of things Stuckey hopes to tackle during his year as a student-leader; one is to bring more attention and awareness to the role itself.
"From my personal experience, I frankly was not aware that this position existed until advertising for it began. I think it would be hugely beneficial to students of all ages, knowing that they have someone who they can talk to about issues they're facing," Stuckey said.
Another is making mental health resources more accessible for students. He said he is passionate about student mental health, which he interprets as "being multifaceted."
"I would fit a number of things under that term, like decreasing stress, making sure students are aware of and have access to counselors/psychologists, and ensuring that teachers and students are on the same page about policy change and there's no need for panic," he said.
Student mental health has been on everyone's minds, including board members and past student representatives. Stuckey hopes to add to the ongoing conversation with attention to support resources like counselors.
"For many students, quarantining and coming off of it were major stressors and may have even caused mental health issues for them. As we are still dealing with the effects of COVID, it's important that we address these issues and provide students with adequate support and help they need," Stuckey said. "And for students not currently dealing with mental health problems, improving access to counselors provides them with one more staff member to get to know better; it would be a win-win."
Since moving to the school district in 2018, Jarquin has strived to make it an inclusive space for all.
Jarquin originally was interested in the role not only because of all the good things her friend and former student representative, Alicia Li, had to say about the position but because she wanted to feel more connected with the school district.
"I was really interested in learning more about my school district, because I felt disconnected from it because I still felt like a new student," she said.
Jarquin is a member of Respond to Racism's Youth Empowerment Committee, and last year she started the Latino Hispanic Student Union — the first of its kind in the school district.
In her role, Jarquin strives to ensure that every district student has a sense of belonging.
During the interview process, Jarquin stood out to Principal Kristen Colyer with her commitment to ensuring that all high school voices are represented and heard. Jarquin hopes to implement more celebrations around Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month in primary and middle schools.
"I think (it's important) to celebrate diversity more at the lower levels, because that's when it's most impactful for younger students to see that and to not feel ashamed to be different," she said.
She also hopes to advocate for diversity inside the classroom too.
"We could diversify our curriculum a little bit more, because I have read very few books in my time (in the district) that feature people of color or anyone who's not considered cis-het," she said.
Jarquin hopes to use her position to emphasize student voices more, mainly because a lot of students have "great ideas and opinions" but may be discouraged to speak up because they don't feel "important enough" or lack connections within the school district community.
"I really hope to just make at least a couple of students feel more welcomed and proud to be who they are," Jarquin said. "And hopefully, I can at least inspire other people to speak up."
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