Sarah McCauley, 17 and a junior at Aberdeen High School, has been the student representative for the Aberdeen School Board since November. She is the second to obtain the position, and was preceeded by AHS alum Jordan Wolfe. McCauley attends every school board meeting from beginning to end, sits next to the board members and even has her own name card. Her duties include voicing the students’ concerns, updating the board on the goings-on of the high school and taking note of what the board members are doing so that she may be informative to other students.
Being the second-ever student representative for the school board, how does the process work for selection? Did you apply, or how did it come to be?
I was nominated to become a member. One day our principal, Mr. Roquin, called me into his office to tell me that I had been nominated and asked if I would be willing to do it. He explained what it was and why I should, and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity and said yes.
What have you learned from the position? Was it different than you expected?
I have learned a lot being a school board member. I never really knew how much goes on behind the scenes until I saw it myself. I’m learning more about how projects such as the levy work, the process of looking at ideas and motions and approving them and just how much community members care about my school district. It was similar to what I expected, but has been a huge learning experience for me. It was, however, less intimidating than I thought it would be as all the board members were so welcoming and friendly toward me.
What other activities are you involved in at school or out of school and why?
I am involved in yearbook, ASB and World Class Scholars. I am a junior editor for the yearbook and the secretary/treasurer of the Junior Class. I do these because I like to be involved and help the school in whatever way I can. I specifically do yearbook because I love writing and hope to have a career that involves it some day. Through ASB, I represent my class and help make the school better for all students. World Class Scholars is a scholarship organization that requires members to complete community service and is run through Grays Harbor College.
What do other students think of your position on the board?
Not too many really know about it as I don’t really go around announcing it, but I do mention it when I can. Of those who do know, they always ask how I became a part of it and ask what I do and whether or not I like it. Not many students know what a board member does, not to mention what goes on at a school board meeting. Also, there has been a time that fellow students had some input for a motion that was being discussed and asked if I would mention their concerns. And I tried my best to voice their opinions as I feel that is my job.
What kind of responsibility do you feel being the voice of the student population?
I am still learning what it truly means to be the voice of the student population as the year goes on, but I am starting to figure it out. I’m always trying to see what is going on that students are concerned about, so that I might be able to help bring attention to it at school board meeting. It’s hard to find things that the students have opinions on as they are not fully aware of what is going on behind the scenes. I feel it is my responsibility to make them more aware so that they can have more input on their school, however, this is something I am still figuring out how to do. I have also learned that you have to go about bringing up a student concern carefully as you want to make sure it is clear that it is just a concern, and not anything negative toward the particular topic. It is a challenging position to navigate and may be something I never fully grasp, but it is another responsibility of mine to figure it out, so that I might find the best way to voice my fellow students’ ideas.
What are some of the biggest issues that you are concerned about within your school, and with the students? What are you most proud of?
Although I don’t have too many concerns, if I had to chose one I would say that I would like to see the students more involved and aware of the movements and changes that the school is going through. Also, I just always want to make sure, as I’m sure all the board members do, that all students throughout the district are being given the best education we can give them. As well as in an environment that they feel welcome in. I am most proud of how far the district has come in meeting the idea I just mentioned. This district is full of great learning opportunities, and works hard to make sure that the schools are safe, as well as the learning being engaging as to allow the students to excel in the fields and activities that best interest them.
What do your parents do? Do you have siblings?
My father is an emergency medicine physician who is also the regional director for Teamhealth and oversees the hospitals in the northwest region under Teamhealth. His official title is regional medical director. My mother has been a stay-at-home mom for as long as I’ve been alive, but volunteers constantly and is involved in organizations. I have one brother who is two years older than me.
Do you think that the student representative position is necessary or helpful and in what way? Would you recommend it to other students?
I think it is a necessary position as the student voice needs to be heard. I feel that it is very important for the board to be able to hear all of the sides of an issue, so that they may have the ability to make a decision based on the perspectives of the people it affects. I do believe that I need to improve to become more effective in my position, and I believe as I continue on I will learn how to be the best in this position that I can be. I would definitely recommend this position to students. I would just be clear on how big of a responsibility it is, and how lost you’ll feel at first, but I would make sure that they know that in the end it is worth it.
What are your plans for after high school?
Although I am still not one-hundred percent sure of what I want to do or what college I want to go to, I do know that I will graduate and most likely go off to a four-year college and major in English or journalism in the hopes of career with writing. Right now, I’m set on being an editor of a magazine, but as my plans change constantly, I may want to be a journalist next week. So really there are no set plans, but I do have a good idea of what will happen once I graduate.
Would you do it again?
Yes, I would most definitely do it again. It has been a great learning experience and it feels good to know that I can help make a positive impact on my school and the entire district.