Posted: Friday, July 7, 2017 – 3:24 PM
By Sam Schwartz
Most students use the summer months to take a well-deserved break from all things school related, but this is not the case for the new student representative to the BHUSD Board of Education, BHHS senior Jonathan Artal.
Since being elected in May through a school-wide election, Artal has been regularly attending meetings, passionately advocating for students and learning the ropes to the district’s complex political system.
“I felt that the position offered a unique opportunity to be active in my own education and community. From helping set academic policy to discussing issues that are important to students, I believed that the role would let me shape and improve students’ experiences and discover the “behind-the-scenes” of education. Relatively few school districts offer a Student Board Member position, so I wanted to take advantage of how seriously BHUSD values the student voice,” said Artal.
Artal is no stranger to being active in the school community. He is president of BHHS’s competitive Model United Nations club, founder of the By Your Side club — a group that promotes tolerance and provides companionship to kids with special needs — and plays on the varsity water polo team. Artal is also junior class president and member of the BHHS Site Council. In his new capacity, Artal hopes to help his peers get involved as well.
“As a Board Member, I really want to expand students’ role in the district,” Artal said. “That includes not only bringing to light issues that many students are concerned about, but also facilitating communication between the students, staff, and district. Many students are unaware of developments in areas such as construction, the budget, and the Metro situation, so helping inform them of what’s going on would allow for a more active and aware student population.”
Artal has learned and adjusted swiftly to his new role, saying, “My first couple board meetings were a really new and interesting experience. I had to catch up on some board procedures and some facts about the district and budget, but Superintendent Michael Bregy and my fellow board members have been more than helpful in allowing me to get acclimated to the process. Now that I’ve had a few weeks to settle in, I feel much more comfortable in the role.”
Superintendent Bregy quickly recognized Artal’s value to the board, remarking that “his intelligence and ability to think through a situation is one of his many skills. Jonathan knows how to work with people of all ages, and when all is said and done, this is a requisite skill for working on a Board of Education.”
Artal will serve as the Student Board Member until May 2018.
Note from the author: As the previous Student Board Member, I can attest that the position is a job learned through experience—there is no tutorial, no prior briefing, and certainly no informational booklet that can prepare a 16-year-old high school senior other than the trial by fire of attending and participating in the meetings.