On Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, student representatives from all the local schools gathered at the school board office to vote for their student school board delegate. One student from each of the county schools, elementary through high school, had the opportunity to hear the candidates give a short speech describing his or her background and experience, reasons for running for the position and his or her platform. The candidates, all Seniors, represented Weeki Wachee High School, Springstead High, Nature Coast Technical High School, Hernando High and Central High School.
Mrs. Tori Hunt, District Faculty Advisor, welcomed the group, made up of students, parents, administrators and the public to the gathering. This is Mrs. Hunt’s fifth year heading up the student delegate election.
Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson explained to the students the importance, not only of voting, but of being an informed voter.
“You’ve got to make sure you know the candidates and you know their platforms and what they stand for. It’s your responsibility before you go to the polls to try and do some research.”
In referring to the student candidates and the school board election she stated, “It won’t matter if they’re the winner or the loser, this will impact their lives forever. You will never look at the elections process the same again. Once you’re elected that’s a pretty big responsibility.”
Evan Bronhard from Weeki Wachee High School stated, “I’m running for the school board because I want to give you [the students] as much of a voice as possible. I have a desire to be part of something bigger than myself and do some good for my community.”
Evan’s platform included several issues, including giving students more voice in school lunches and working to get more media specialists and librarians hired in the schools.
Springstead High School’s delegate, Charlize Soares, divided her platform into three categories – physical health, mental health and education.
“My goals focus on helping every student in Hernando County have the best school experience possible. To work on improving physical health I plan to improve school lunches. I hope to increase the number of SRO’s [School Resource Officers]. Spreading kindness and anti-bullying are crucial to making school a happy and healthy environment. To maximize opportunities for students’ education we should be placing priority on applying for grants for improving technology,” Charlize commented.
Nature Coast Technical High School’s representative, Jada Smith, decided to run for student delegate because she wanted to be a voice for the students and wished to help increase motivation among the students. She also brought up the subject of mental health.
Jada explained, “A lot of students don’t want to come to school because of bullying. What you have going on inside of you determines how you function in today’s society.”
Sophia Torres from Hernando High also emphasized the importance of mental health. Other issues she addressed were improving school lunches, better and more efficient safety drills, transitional programs between grades and better communication between students and teachers during lockdowns.
“I feel that I have a chance to do some good in the community. I believe that change starts with the people who are most being affected by it. I will always demand action and I will always take action. Complacency is not an option,” Sophia stated.
Dylan Fox-Chapman from Central High School had visited a number of schools to see what the students’ concerns were. These included improvements in maintenance, engagement, safety and mental health. Under maintenance he mentioned improvements on buses and with air conditioning. In the area of engagement he suggested incentives for students to become more involved in school.
“The incentive program is when the student government at each school creates a list of rewards that the students would enjoy such as an ice cream social, a longer recess, or a movie time. The school board would design a behavioral goal for each school and when the students reach their goal, they earn their rewards,” Dylan remarked.
After the candidates gave their speeches, the student representatives voted on their choice of delegate. Sophia Torres was declared the winner.
In her acceptance speech Sophia remarked, “This is how we incite change. This is how we make a difference. We do everything in our power to make the lives of the students better.”
This annual election for the student school board delegate is an excellent opportunity not only for students to learn about our democratic process, but also to have a voice on issues that affect their lives and to develop their leadership skills. After all, these young men and women are our future leaders.