Student Representatives Join School Board

In order to increase student voice, the Puyallup School District will now have student representatives on the school board.

The addition of Student Representatives to the school board was approved by the board Oct. 3. The elected students will be formally welcomed at the next meeting Monday, Oct. 17.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been discussing how we wanted to hear from our students more than perhaps has happened at the district level,” Puyallup School District Superintendent Dr. John Polm said.

Dr. Polm has been the district’s superintendent since July 1, 2020, with 34 prior years in public education. He says one of his goals has always been to hear more student voices.

“I had [having student advisors] as one of my goals when I came to the school district originally,” Polm said. “A priority for me as a public educator is that our students need to be heard. They need to [be]. They’re why we’re here. None of us will be here without our students.”

The Interim Executive Director of Equity and Secondary Education, Julie Hunter, is working with the high schools to arrange this process. Her primary job involves working with administrators to provide them with resources to run the school.

“What we’ve done is met with the superintendent, talked with the assistant superintendent, because this ball had already started rolling, I think last spring in terms of the vision for it, and so I took the ball,” Hunter said.

According to Hunter, in September a proposal was put together to identify the process, including how students apply. This year is the first to have student representatives, so only juniors and seniors could apply, but in the future, the board hopes to expand it to other grades.

Principal Dave Sunich was asked to identify students who might be interested, so he told a number of students about the role, showing them a flyer with a QR code for the Microsoft application form.

Senior Cameron Powell, one of the students Sunich spoke to, has applied and says they are excited to have this chance and that it’s a good opportunity to represent the school.

“Hopefully if I do get accepted, I’m looking forward to be representation of my school, obviously, and also for LGBTQ youth, or the art program, which doesn’t get a lot of recognition. And that’s something I’m big on, to really bring that representation to the school,” Powell said.

Junior Rose Spagnolo also applied and says she is looking forward to learning about how the school board runs.

“I am slightly nervous because I am so busy with soccer and sports that I might miss a few meetings,” Spagnolo said. “The scholarships for this opportunity would be helpful because I really want to go to college, but my family does not have the gift of money. I also would like to learn more about the school board in general.”

Hunter adds that being a student representative would provide students with valuable experience.

“This is definitely something that would be helped build a resume or a college application. A lot of colleges look at things other than grades. They want to see other involvement,” Hunter said.

The school board is five elected officials who manage the district, with an overseeing superintendent. There will be one student each for Puyallup, Rogers and Emerald Ridge, and one to represent both Puyallup’s online academy and Walker.

The elected students are non-voting members of the board and would be listed on the website with their pictures. They will rotate attendance at public board sessions and give three-minute long reports about the status at their schools. Meetings are every month on the first and third Mondays, 6 p.m. at the Kessler Center. On Fridays prior to meetings, the agenda will be added to BoardDocs, which is linked on the PSD website.