WEST ORANGE, NJ — A West Orange student who spoke at the board of education’s reorganization meeting on Monday stressed the importance of having better student representation on district decisions, as West Orange students are often the ones being directly affected, he said.
Acting Superintendent of Schools Eveny de Mendez praised Sam Selikoff, who spoke with the support of his neighbor, Elizabeth Redwine, for his confidence and for taking the time to speak out on behalf of his peers.
“You are correct,” said de Mendez. “As a student, we are here to serve you.”
However, she also brought attention to the board’s student liaisons, West Orange High School (WOHS) seniors and student council members Sessina Dani and Aarushi Bhatnagar, who attend board meetings and provide input on behalf of the student body.
“You are correct in that you do have a stake in whatever decisions are made, so you should have a say,” said Dani, who added that there was a student website created for this purpose.
According to Dani, the purpose of the website is to provide a platforms for students in all grades to address their concerns and make suggestions to the student council and the board of education.
The forum, which is available under “High School Student Links” on the district website, on the WOHS student bulletin board and on the West Orange Student Council Instagram bio, can only be accessed by West Orange students.
“We more than invite you to make use of these tools, and to reach out to us if you have anything you want to say and encourage others as well,” said Dani.
The board intends to send out a letter to all students providing them with information on this platform and how to access it.
Board member Mark Robertson suggested that there might be better ways to highlight this platform on the homepage of all schools in addition to the high school’s.
In response to Selikoff’s comments, he also elaborated on the duties of the student liaison and the benefits that they have provided thus far.
“[The student liaisons] have actually brought a number of good initiatives to bear,” he said. “Their voices have made a difference already in addressing bus schedules, GPS usage on buses, feminine products, having later bus schedules so the kids can sleep in and later school times.”
Board Vice President Sandra Mordecai was so impressed by Selikoff’s comments that she shared the sentiment of other members who look forward to having Selikoff serve as a student liaison in the future.
To read more from the reorganization meeting, where Cheryl Merklinger and Terry Trigg-Scales were officially sworn into office, click HERE.
The next WOBOE meeting will held on Jan. 28 at West Orange High School.