New pilot program creates representation for students in community

A handful of students are taking the first steps in bridging the gap between the Sequim community and youth.

More than 10 Sequim High School juniors and seniors will participate in a pilot program “Students in the Community” launched by United Sequim and the Sequim School District Leadership class to serve as liaisons on the boards of city organizations and entities within Sequim School District boundaries.

United Sequim is a branch of Sequim Community Plus designated to build more positive connections between the community and Sequim public schools.

“This truly is a leadership program forming a strong partnership with students and the community” Shenna Younger, a member of United Sequim and co-developer of the program, said.

Younger said part of the idea for this pilot program came from her daughter Emily Straling’s positive experience serving as a student liaison for the City of Sequim as a high school student last year.

She and Carrol Hull, members of United Sequim, approached Sequim High School Leadership class teacher Sean O’Mera about the opportunity to allow student liaisons to serve on eight organizations in Sequim, including the Boys &Girls Club, Sequim Food Bank, Sequim City Council, Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters, the YMCA and Shipley Center. The Port of Port Angeles also requested to be included.

“Any kind of engagement is good,” O’Mera said. “Having students on these boards in a professional manner is a wonderful opportunity.”

The students chose the organizations in which they wanted to serve with some students taking the role of a delegate and others as alternates.

Sequim High School seniors Haelee Andres and Teya Nop will both serve as student delegates on the Sequim City Council.

Andres said she wants to serve with the City of Sequim because she plans on pursuing a career in education as a high school teacher. She said she is passionate about helping youth and believes the best position to do that is by serving as a liaison with the city.

She also will be serving as a liaison for the City Arts Commission with a goal of bringing more art into the community and getting more youth involved.

Nop said she chose to serve with the City of Sequim because she wants to reach out into the community more and represent a voice for Sequim High School. She hopes to inspire other students to come to city council meetings.

The students will serve as liaisons for one year starting in September. They will be required to attend one or two meetings of the organization they serve each month, bring written reports on important issues from the schools, serve on a committee if the board has one, engage and ask questions at board meetings and have students reach out to peers regarding agenda items affecting youth in the community and submit a report to the board.

The students’ participation as liaisons with these organizations will be part of the students’ grades in the leadership class. If this pilot program is successful, Younger said it is possible the program could be extended to sophomore students the following year.

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