A new face on the dais this year at the monthly school board meetings is Sonoma Valley High School senior Paulina Prasad.
Each year, the Sonoma Valley Unified School District board welcomes a new student representative. This student attends every meeting and is invited to provide a student perspective to relevant discussions as well as a short monthly report on activities and events at the high school.
When she ran for the position of Student Voice last March, Prasad knew that one of her responsibilities was going to be to attend the school board meetings and to develop a relationship with the school board members.
“I have only been to two meetings so far, but I really enjoy being involved in school politics and decision making and am excited to continue attending the meetings throughout the year,” she said. “Although I was nervous in the first meeting, I was also excited to represent the entire student body in front of the public. I enjoyed the opportunity to voice my opinion and give a report on this year’s homecoming, sports and various activities around campus. I also found it interesting to learn how school board meetings are managed and I enjoyed learning about the role that the school board plays throughout the entire Sonoma school district.”
Said Sonoma Valley Unified School boardmember Nicole Abate Ducarroz, “It’s so important to have students in the room for our meetings because they are what its all about, and we need to hear their voice. They are the bottom line, what is in the best interest of the students, so we need to not only get updates about them, but get their feedback as well, and I welcome any student to contact any of us any time.”
Prasad is currently busy filling out college applications and is interested in studying international relations and helping to improve the educational systems, health programs and law systems in developing countries.
“Since my sophomore year of high school, after volunteering for a week at an orphanage in Mexico, I witnessed extreme poverty and realized that the root of unemployment was a lack of education,” she explained. “I would like to create more public schools in countries like Mexico because currently, receiving an education costs more than most families make in a week. I strongly believe that in order to end the cycle of poverty, people must find a way to increase educational standards.”
Prasad attended Woodland Star Charter School for her elementary and middle school education. She has enjoyed her three years at Sonoma Valley High and is excited to begin her senior project this fall – launching a school leadership group focused on human trafficking prevention. She will be planning various activities throughout the Bay Area and attending several justice conferences focused on educating the public about the issue.
In her first board meetings, Prasad has been struck by the focus on improving educational programs and reading standards in elementary and middle schools.
“From what I observed, the programs discussed are excellent additions to our school district and will help prepare students for the challenges of high school. I also think that the implementation of new summer school standards was also a strong addition to the curriculum, and will help more students graduate on time with their classmates,” she said.