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Newport-Mesa Amplifies Student Voice Through Student Board Member Program
Posted 10/19/22

Student Board Members
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education welcomed seven Student Board Members for the 2022-23 school year. One representative from each high school, plus Cloud Campus, serves as a student adviser to the Superintendent and Board of Education, sharing the interests, activities, concerns and ideas gathered from their student peers. Student Board Members rotate sitting at the dais and serving as a preferential voting representative to the NMUSD Board of Trustees. Student Board Member votes are a non-binding formal expression of opinion, recorded in the board meeting minutes. 

“It is important for the Student Board Member Program to be a thoughtful, educational and meaningful experience for students,” said Board Vice President Charlene Metoyer, who represents Trustee Area 2. “Hearing directly from students about our school’s strengths and challenges helps us better support students and their needs and interests,” she said. 

Student Board members have a responsibility to lead by example. They create a web of connections and communications between students, staff and district, which is vital to a healthy school environment. During their one-year term, the Student Board Members learn about school governance, as they meet with Metoyer, who serves as student board liaison. As a group, Student Board Members meet with Metoyer prior to each NMUSD Board Meeting to review and discuss items on the agenda. Student Board Members rotate attendance at NMUSD Board meetings and attend the California School Boards Association (CSBA) Annual Education Conference.  

The NMUSD Board of Education values student voice and strongly considers students' ideas and reactions to their education. The Board redesigned the Student Board program in 2019 to give students more of a voice in district governance. 

This year’s Student Board Members are:

  • Fernando Barranon, Estancia High School, Senior: He hopes to bring a positive, inclusive energy to the Board, reporting highlights about Estancia from sports programs to electives. He also reaches out to students during breaks, lunch and after school to gain a wide perspective of student voices. In addition to serving as the president of the Acts of Random Kindness Club, vice president of the Leo’s Club, ambassador for ONE on Campus, and member of Best Buddies and the Key Club, Fernando enjoys writing poetry, hiking, binge-watching TV shows and movies, and learning new arts and crafts. He intends to study political science or communications upon graduation.
     

  • Kate Cherry, Newport Harbor High School, Senior: This is Kate’s second year as a Student Board Member, and she hopes to continue to give a voice to students in the Newport Harbor Zone. She wants to be someone that students can come to with comments or concerns they might not feel comfortable sharing with the district themselves. She values showing the community how much NMUSD staff and the Board care about their students. Kate is active with her school’s ASB, plays soccer and field hockey, is part of the Youth & Government and Young Democrats clubs, and recently founded a Music Appreciation Club. Outside of school, she enjoys playing club sports, reading, thrifting, curating playlists, and discovering the adventures offered in nearby towns. After graduation, she plans to study political science and current affairs.
     

  • Ethan Kraus, Cloud Campus, Senior: As one of Cloud Campus’ first students, Ethan wants to increase the visibility of his school, staff and student body. He has been the school’s student representative in focus groups, including the WASC accreditation process, in addition to taking a seat on the NMUSD Student Board, thus further immersing himself in the community that supports him. He looks forward to bringing what he learns to his virtual campus for the benefit of all students. Outside school activities, he enjoys fishing and spending time with his friends and family. Ethan plans to someday be a history teacher.
     

  • Isabella Mills, Costa Mesa High School, Senior: Having previously served on the NMUSD Mental Health Task Force, Isabella decided to apply for a seat on the Student Board because she likes making positive changes that impact her fellow students. She is involved in many clubs and extracurriculars, exposing herself to varying opinions and suggestions from different people. She wants to provide support for her peers, ensuring that their opinions and suggestions are considered. Isabella is president of Madrigal Choir; vice president of the Drama Club, Film Club and Eco Club; treasurer of the National Honors Society; and historian for the Mock Trial team. She also served as stage manager for the middle school's production of “Willy Wonka.” Isabella enjoys surfing, reading, listening to and performing music, baking vegan cakes, thrift/vintage shopping, hiking, and writing. She intends to double major in English literature and art history.
     

  • Daniela Ramirez, Back Bay/Monte Vista High School, Senior: Daniela believes that by including student voices, there are opportunities to grow for her school and the district. She plans to focus on providing more inclusive environments by inspiring marginalized groups to speak up about their concerns and to become more active members of their community. Aside from her active role as her school’s ASB vice president, Daniela stays busy with her passion for dance. She is a member of Back Bay’s dance program, for which she choreographs and performs at school events, and participates in HALO, a nonprofit organization that hosts dance performances to raise money for families affected by autism. Her future plans are to one day open her own beauty salon, with the hopes of becoming successful enough to start a nonprofit that raises money to help immigrant families.
     

  • Theo “TJ” Rokos, Corona Del Mar High School (CdM), Senior: TJ has long been involved in student government and has volunteered with several local political campaigns. As the senior ASB president at CdM, he understands the importance of the Student Board and intends to focus his energy on preserving the tradition of excellence at NMUSD for all students. He wants to leave the District headed in a better direction than when he first walked into his kindergarten classroom. TJ is the starting right tackle on the CdM football team, a youth football coach, an avid golfer and a foodie. He hopes to attend law school in the future.
     

  • Marcelina Sanchez, Early College High School, Junior: Marcelina enjoys getting different student perspectives around campus about what is going well and what could be improved. Together with her student peers, Marcelina wants to make her school a place where all students feel safe and comfortable, able to freely express themselves. She serves as the social media coordinator for ASB and formed a sub-club to the Community Service Club called Smile Notes, in which high school students write motivational notes to kids at elementary schools. She is also involved with the after-school nonprofit organization Save Our Youth. Marcelina intends to become a pediatrician and someday open a clinic in the same community that has supported her and her dreams.

The formal selection process for Student Board Members includes submission of an application, resume, transcript, letters of recommendation and an introductory video. They must be in good academic standing and demonstrate active involvement in their school community and with their social peers. All candidates are interviewed by the NMUSD Board of Education prior to selection.