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Oct 2, 2018 1:52 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Student Representative Sits On Sag Harbor School Board

Kelly Kinsella, right, with Sag Harbor School Board member Jordana Sobey during Monday night's board meeting. JON WINKLER
Oct 2, 2018 2:01 PM

The Sag Harbor School Board welcomed a new member to its ranks on Monday night.

Kelly Kinsella, 17, sat with board members at her first meeting on October 1 as the first-ever student representative appointed to the board. Ms. Kinsella, who is the acting president of the Sag Harbor Student Council, is also the daughter of former School Board President Susan Kinsella.

Speaking after the board meeting on Monday, Ms. Kinsella said that she met with Pierson High School Principal Jeff Nichols and District Superintendent Katy Graves this past summer to discuss the need for more student input on board discussion topics.

“Because the board is so vital in making a lot of important decisions for the school, particularly for the student body, they figured there should be some sort of presence at every meeting just so that I can either communicate the information to my fellow classmates or give input on certain issues,” Ms. Kinsella said.

Ms. Graves said on Tuesday that she saw that other school districts have student representatives on their school boards which has led to better student interaction.

“When we started reviewing student government policies, it made us reflect on how student input is so important,” Ms. Graves said. “At almost every meeting, there’s something that will resonate with students. I think it’s wonderful to know how students feel about these things.”

Ms. Kinsella went on to describe the establishment of the student representative position as a “great step toward giving a voice back to the students.”

She said she believes that the role will also allow students to have more information and make more informed opinions on school news. Ms. Kinsella said she hopes to attend as many meetings as possible, depending on her current schedule as a student, and be more involved in decisions that impact them.

“Students occasionally feel as if they might not be getting the right amount of say that they should be, at least with the older students,” she said. “I know because we feel more independent and that we should have our own voice. Our goal is trying to get that involvement back.”

When asked if there was any particular school issue that she wished there was a stronger student voice on, Ms. Kinsella said it would’ve been beneficial to have a student representative during the discussions of renovating the athletic field at Pierson. This refers to when the board planned to install a synthetic turf field in December 2016, but residents voted down the proposal and instead approved having the fields renovated with natural grass the following February. Ms. Kinsella said she has many friends who were athletes and were trying to go to college for athletics, hence the desire to speak out on the issue.

“I know from the students’ perspective, a lot of us were for it, but then obviously the parents had done their research,” Ms. Kinsella said. “Because there was no student that came to all of these meetings and heard everything that was said, we didn’t get the full information and we didn’t get to see it from every perspective.”

The Student Council will hold its first official meeting on Wednesday, when Ms. Kinsella said she hopes to gather what issues are on the students’ minds and figure out how to involve them in board meetings. If Ms. Kinsella is swamped with schoolwork, Ms. Graves said that other members of the Student Council can sit in as the representative. Members include Student Council Vice President Graham diLoronzo, Student Council Secretary Phoebe Miller and Student Council Treasurer Reilly Rose Schombs. Meanwhile, Ms. Kinsella said that her mother finds her daughter’s new position “funny.”

“She was involved for many years and that stopped, but now here I am taking her spot,” Ms. Kinsella said.

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Smart girl!
By MelissaA (41), Sag Harbor on Oct 5, 18 12:34 PM
That's great!
By Craigcat (242), Speonk on Oct 5, 18 4:55 PM