Student Senate Elects Its Board of Education Delegates

SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE     Issue 22     January 14, 2013

Student Senate Elects Its Representatives to the Board of Education

Minoufa "Minny" Lesperance and Jocelyn Arroyo share a congratulatory moment at the Student Senate elections
The new Hartford Public Schools Student Senate has elected Jocelyn Arroyo, a sophomore at the Pathways to Technology magnet school, and Minoufa “Minnie” Lesperance, a senior at the Nursing Academy, to serve as the nonvoting student representatives on the Hartford Board of Education for the remainder of the school year.
The Senate delegates chose Ms. Arroyo and Ms. Lesperance from among ten candidates who put their names in nomination for the positions at a three-hour long meeting that was held Wednesday, Dec. 12, in the Library Media Center at Hartford Public High School. Each candidate was required to deliver a campaign speech before the entire Senate explaining why he or she should be elected.
“I’ve been in the Hartford school system most of my life and I have witnessed so much,” said Ms. Lesperance, 17, who delivered a very moving speech about overcoming personal hardships to become an honor student. “I’ve always been interested in why the board does certain things and doesn’t do others. I ran because I want to be a voice for the students. Not many students have the guts to speak out and I feel I do.”
Ms. Arroyo, a 15-year-old, who said she loves politics and public service, expressed similar sentiments. “Students should have a say in what goes on in Hartford Public Schools. You can’t always leave decisions up to adults. Times change and there are things that only we the students know.”
Superintendent Dr. Kishimoto shares ideas with Ms. Lesperance and Ms. Arroyo
Student representation on the Board of Education and the creation of a Student Senate were part of a larger policy revision that was approved by the board, with the support of Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto, in December of 2011. The revised measure also required that each high school develop a student council.
Although they will be non-voting members, Ms. Lesperance and Ms. Arroyo will be able to speak on any item on the agenda of the monthly board meetings. They can also serve on any board committee.
“I am so looking forward to seeing the influence that a student voice can have on our decision making,” said Superintendent Kishimoto. “Their presence at board meetings cannot be taken lightly.”
The Senate, which is expected to meet approximately once a month, in many cases to discuss policy issues with the superintendent, also chose its executive officers at Wednesday’s meeting.
They are: President Tiffany Mitchell, 17, a senior at the Law & Government Academy; Vice President Darin Herrera, 16, a junior at Pathways to Technology; Treasurer Bethany Brown, 16, a junior at the University High School of Science and Engineering and Secretary Erjona Tuda, 15, a sophomore at Bulkeley Lower School.
Some of the Student Senate officers with Dr. Kishimoto, left to right: Jocelyn Arroyo, Delegate to the Board of Education; Darren Herrera, Vice-President; Dr. Kishimoto; Tiffany Mitchell, President; and Minoufa Lesperance, Delegate to the Board of Education
“Having students participate will undoubtedly improve the governance of the district and help them build the skills they will need as adult leaders in the community,” said Matthew K. Poland, the Chairman of the Hartford Board of Education.
The Senate consists of two delegates from each of the district’s neighborhood and magnet high schools.
Ms. Mitchell said that among the first issues that the Senate wants to undertake is strengthening the curriculum and orientation of entering freshmen to prevent them from failing out of school.
“They need to understand that you can’t fool around and wait until senior year to get your work done,” she said. “A lot of us in the Senate wish that we had had that extra push when we were freshmen.”
All of the delegates are receiving leadership training through their advisor, Kally Moquete, a program assistant at Hartford Public High School. Ms. Arroyo and Ms. Lesperance will be receiving additional training related to their duties as student representatives on the board.

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