Student school board rep hits the ground running

By James Grob,

Isaiah Tilton attended his first school board meeting Monday as an active member, and although he was just a rookie, he still found a way to get involved with the discussion.

“It was interesting,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was doing half the time, but it was interesting.”

The Charles City Community School District Board of Education appointed Tilton, a junior at Charles City High School, as the student board member for the 2018-19 school year at Monday’s meeting.

The student board member serves through May, and is eligible to participate in discussion at all regular board meetings held in open session. The student board member is a non-voting position, and the student representative is responsible for communicating board decisions and information to the student body.

Tilton said he’s not going to be one to just sit and listen to the other board members. He plans to get involved with the discussions.

“Last year I went to a couple of these board meetings because I was a part of the “Tiny House” committee, and I noticed the student representative didn’t say as much,” he said. “I feel like, what’s the point of doing this if you’re not going to participate?”

Though he doesn’t have a vote, in open meetings Tilton has the same power of discussion as the elected members of the school board do.

“Sometimes a voice can be more important than a vote,” he said.

“The student’s point of view is a very important part of the process,” said newly-sworn-in board President Robin Macomber.  “We see one thing, but a student might see something we don’t.”

In the past, educational decisions were made by everyone in the community except for the students themselves, and Tilton said he’s glad those days are gone.

“I think through history it’s starting to get better,” he said. “We’ve seen an increase, over time, in student representation.”

He added that he will try to lead by example to get the student population to be more vocal.

“I want to help make it so younger students can go from hating school to enjoying it,” Tilton said.

Tilton said he hopes his participation can make a difference in the school and in the community.

“It’s always been an interest of mine, to help those I’ve found need help,” he said.  “After a few years of being in this school district, I’ve noticed some changes that could be made.”

Tilton said that right now he’s working to get some of the students more interested in some of the classes. He said  a lot of students try to avoid taking more difficult math and science classes, and that hurts them in the long run.

“I hope I can represent the students and get information out there to try to get them to find ways to make some of these classes more interesting and entertaining, and easier for the students to understand,” Tilton said. “Sometimes the teachers don’t always explain what they’re teaching very well.”

Board member Scott Dight said Tilton was actively involved with the school renovation committee last year.

“I went on a number of site visits with faculty, students, staff and board members, and he spent much of one trip on the way home on his laptop, designing a new high school concept based on his own thoughts,” Dight said. “I think we made a good choice, and I know he’ll have a lot of additional input from his own perspective and from student’s perspective. I look forward to having him involved and hearing his thoughts.”

Tilton said, “I designed those plans and models in an attempt to get the students interested in this issue.”

He added that he thinks he needs to engage the student body, and learn what their ideas are.

“I need to find out what they want, so that I can express it to the board.”

Besides working with the school renovation committee and on the Tiny House last year, Tilton has been involved in track, cross country and was vice-president of his class last year as a sophomore. He said he plans on running for class president, and has long-term thoughts of going into engineering or architecture.