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School board student representatives play important role in board function

School board student representatives play important role in board function

For School Board Recognition Week Feb. 20-24, Osseo Area Schools deeply thanks all school board members, past and present, who dedicate themselves to serving the best interests of the district’s scholars and staff. 

We also seek to shine a light on an important group of high school students who serve as student representatives to the school board and provide invaluable insight about their experiences to board members. This school year, those students include Mawata Kamara from Park Center Senior High School, Priyah Moua from 279Online, Linnea Noeldner from Osseo Senior High School and Timur Usenov from Maple Grove Senior High School. 

Mawata Kamara - Park Center Senior High

Kamara, a junior who is also the captain of her school soccer team and takes part in Model United Nations, said a teacher suggested she apply for this opportunity because she is vocal about her opinions in class. She said her biggest takeaway from the experience so far was the knowledge that the school board wants to hear their opinion and seeks to understand the student experience. She said she’s been able to speak on behalf of her peers about school bathroom access, and she feels her voice helped bring about positive change. 

In fact, Kamara has enjoyed it so much that she’s been telling more students from her school about the opportunity and would like the chance to be part of it next year as well. 

“I feel like it’s a misunderstanding that people think the school board isn’t going to listen to us,” she said. “That’s one thing I’ve taken away from this whole thing, that we’re going to listen to each other.”

Priyah Moua - 279 Online

Priyah Moua, who is a junior, said she wanted to represent her generation to the school board and speak for those who need help but might be nervous to reach out to adults.

In her spare time, Moua said she enjoys volunteer work and any opportunity that helps her expand more as a person. She said her time as a student representative on the school board has been the type of growing experience she had hoped for.

“I truly believe this is such a great learning experience for anyone who is interested in what the school does and how it works,” she said. “I’ve gained more knowledge on how the school system works and their policies. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence in public speaking.”

Moua said she felt empowered to speak on behalf of high school students on the issue of medications at school, and she is proud to bring an Asian American perspective to the board. 

Linnea Noeldner - Osseo Senior High School

Senior Linnea Noeldner said being a student representative has changed her perspective on her school. 

“It makes me more involved and insightful, and it opened my eyes more to my school,” she said. I feel like now I’m constantly watching and observing, taking in the environment of the school instead of just being a student since I know I’m writing a report for the board. It makes me more caring about the school and makes me look around to think what we can improve, what is good and what is bad,” Noeldner said. “I feel very happy that I got chosen.”

Beyond being a student representative, Noeldner is also a member of the cross country team, track, National Honor Society, and attends the school’s LGBTQ meetings. 

She said she has been able to share with the board about her experiences with standardized testing, how it might affect different people, and their suggestions how testing might be improved.

Timur Usenov - Maple Grove Senior High School

Timur Usenov, a senior, is the president of his school’s speech and debate club, along with participation in many other activities such as orchestra, a mental health advocacy club, book club, robotics and musicals.

Usenov said he was drawn to the opportunity to serve as an outlet for student voices and help bring other voices to the table, along with the chance to have a closer look at the inner workings of the school system and how the school board makes decisions. 

“I wanted to see how I could bring my voice, my friends’ voices and the voices of people I don’t know to the table so they can be represented within my school,” Usenov said. 

To that end, he said he has asked many people what they think of their school and their experience, and he’s heard many opinions and ideas that have extended beyond his own. 

Most recently, Usenov said he felt he could use his voice to share his opinion on the value of having access to free school lunch, as well as when discussing the role of police in disciplinary action within an educational setting.