MONTAGUE – Last year Montague High School alumni Tianna Smith acted as the student representative to the Montague Area Public Schools (MAPS) school board.
She was the sole representative for the students in the school district. This school year the role is being filled by five different students, each of whom are seniors.
The 2019 school board student representative are Alaina Eilers, Elizabeth Hill, Clay Jancek, Karley Leek and Leah Ovitt.
When Smith was the student representative she provided updates to the school board about what is happening with the students around the district.
“So we can’t vote, but we can partake in discussion. The way they did it last year with Tianna, the principals have their meaningful minute, she would be given a chance to give an update on what the students have been doing. [...] Then if she wanted to bring something up she could do it then,” said Jancek.
This batch of representatives hopes to expand that role.
Only one student attends a school board meeting, but the group hopes to meet together in advance to discuss things they believe should be brought up to the board.
School administrators like Principal Troy Moran and Pat Collins, director of Student Services and Athletics, will query the student body about issues the student representatives may wish to discuss with the school board members. However, they are also considering creating surveys using Google Docs to find out other additional concerns students might have.
The student representatives said last year they had no idea Smith was representing the student body at the school board meetings. This year they want to make sure students know who their representatives are.
The only people to apply for the position were the five current representatives. Leek said she was inspired to run by Lisa Kiel, Montague teacher and city council member.
“During my freshman year as part of the government class, that is mandatory to take, we have to go to some of the meetings and get signatures from all of the representatives on the board. I found it as a hobby with all my friends to go to different places, so I went to Lakewood, Montague, Whitehall meetings several times,” said Leek.
“I became a good friend with one of the teachers here, Lisa Kiel, and she was on the city board, and I really enjoyed it. Seeing the opportunity and the opening I was like, why not?”
Eilers said she wanted to help voice the concerns and disagreements some students might have with school board and administrative decisions.
For Hill she said in order to understand big politics she felt it was important to understand what is happening at the local level first.
“To understand big politics, like country (or) international politics you have to understand the little things first, so it all starts with what your city government does or your school government does. You have to start small before you get big,” said Hill.
With the exception of Hill, the student representatives expressed an interest in holding political office after they graduate from college or their respective post-secondary education program.
Eilers’ said she wants to return to Montague and hold office, Leek said she plans to become either a manager at a hotel and restaurant and believes she will be involved in business politics. Jancek is dreaming big and hopes to become president one day.
Ovitt was not present during the time of this interview.