Hello Otselic Valley Vikings and community:
I am Otselic Valley Central School District’s first student board representative. Prior to my position on the Board, I was firm in my opinion that being heard and respected is an important aspect to a functioning community, so when OV took the next step in hearing from their students and accepting a senior for the Board, I took the chance. There is an empowering feeling that carries along with being heard, but being understood is even better. The Otselic Valley Board of Education has openly given me as well as each and every student the chance to speak up and be understood. I was granted this position by my fellow Vikings and the Board of Education. Following my endorsement, I was sworn-in in October 18th of 2018. This is where my “journey” officially started.
Or so it is thought; my motivation to run for the student position grew from the roots of my past. Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I was quiet. Not quiet because I had nothing to say, but because of the people and environment in which I was forced to prosper. In that household, it was implied that as a young child, my best offer to the family was to remain silent. At the age of twelve, I was given a new opportunity to overcome the barriers of that household and my personal inhibitions. At this time in my life, although I was still struggling, I was growing. I was transforming into an intellect who was slowly shedding her shame and insecurities. That being said, without my past endeavors, sitting with the Board Of Education would have been an amazing mess of a journey. I’m not idealizing that an individual has to face hardship to make a good representative, but one could argue the importance of the transformation from advocating for one to an entire student body.
That aside, the Board of Education helped to solidify my confidence. There is an indescribable feeling of self worth when I am standing-- or more so sitting--with a panel of other adults who envision the same success for Otselic Valley and appreciate my voice or dedication. As a member of the Board of Education, I have been given the chance to advocate for something bigger than myself. Regardless of my appreciation for my position, the entirety of the journey was not easy.
Taking advantage of the “behind the scenes” look on collaboration with DCMO BOCES and varying other programs was not easy to comprehend. As a student, it is easy to forget the critical duties each person in this school district is to maintain a successful educational system. Having the “behind the scenes” view meant acclimating to the articulation of public comments and being open-minded to the countless thoughts filtering through each individual during board meetings in the cafeteria. Furthermore, finding the balance of academics and other extracurriculars was not an easy concept, but the sense of accomplishment is enough to drown out any of these concerns.
My time as Otselic Valley’s student representative has come to an end. As can be assumed, the “shoes”--or seat-- must be filled. The position is open to any Otselic Valley Senior who has the determination to use his or her voice for the greater impact here at OV. The next representative should strive to commit himself or herself to the well-being of others, but also maintain independence in thoughts and actions. This next person will be a critical puzzle piece in the communications between the student body and the Board of Education. Pride should be taken in the amount of significance one person has the opportunity to make for Otselic Valley.
I challenge each upcoming senior class to approach its last year with vigor and the tenacity to face a challenge and overcome it. A certain Viking in the upcoming senior class displays the necessary characteristics to be a board representative. For this student, the seat in the Cafeteria labeled “VIKING” is precisely where he or she will find strength.
Finally, I would like to thank each individual who has made the transition into the Board of Education less hectic. Most importantly, thank you to the Board of Education and Mr. Berson for giving me the platform to use my voice to cultivate my skills that will help me with my future success in college, and after. To my fellow Vikings: “SPEAK UP AND SPEAK PROUDLY.”
Thank you- Jolanda Ponce