Chimacum students invited to nation’s capital

Laura Jean Schneider
ljschneider@ptleader.com
Posted 1/5/22

 

 

Chimacum High School students Ava Vaughan and Eugenia Frank are crossing their fingers for a senior year highlight, in person: a trip to Washington, D.C. this January.

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Chimacum students invited to nation’s capital

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Chimacum High School students Ava Vaughan and Eugenia Frank are crossing their fingers for a senior year highlight, in person: a trip to Washington, D.C. this January.

The best friends and student directors recently attended the Washington State School Directors’ Association conference in Bellevue, where they were invited to a conference at the nation’s capital to participate in a discussion with legislators.

Vaughan said the three-day conference, which she and Frank attended with the rest of the Chimacum School Board, was a “really informational and excellent conference.” Frank appreciated the focus on equality in schools, in line with her passion for advocacy.

During a recent Zoom call, the two students were enthusiastic about this honor, and really hoping to make the trip in-person.

As student directors for the high school, the seniors go to every board meeting and give reports that last about 10 to 15 minutes, filling in the school board about the voice of the student body.

“From the students right now, I would say mental health is a big one,” Vaughan said of the issues most mentioned by Chimacum High School students.

Frank echoed her peer, adding that COVID complaints, from one-way halls to protocols, are the bulk of student concerns.

There’s also the issue of equity in education, she added.

“Chimacum still has a lot of work to do right now,” Frank said.

The teens have been through three superintendents during their two-year term as student directors. Of Superintendent Scott Mauk, who came aboard in August, both were optimistic.

“We really enjoy having him as a superintendent,” Vaughan said.

What he brings to the table is “a humungous leap forward in terms of what Chimacum needs,” she added, emphasizing Mauk’s stance on equity work and policy.

Both also noted the critical issue of school funding. Frank explained that funds are based on student numbers, not necessarily on district or facility needs.

Vaughan said that as a Type O diabetic student, starting her freshman year would have been a lot scarier had there not been a nurse on campus.

Frank chimed in to say that during COVID, a federal grant was procured to help all students at the school eat for free, and the goal is to implement that offering as a permanent part of the meal program in Chimacum.

“We have a great relationship with community wellness,” she said.

Exemplary student leaders that they are, the two classmates have an invitation to the National School Boards Association Advocacy Institute, which meets the weekend of Jan. 23 in Washington, D.C.

Frank said the program will look at, among other topics,  increased advocacy in the school district and at higher legislation levels.

The “A Day on the Hill” event will allow students to meet with senators and members of Congress.

A caveat: “Congress is on extended recess,” Frank said.

She and Vaughan met with the Washington State Senate over Zoom, and they hope to meet with D.C. lawmakers as well.

On the forefront of their minds are their replacements; two more students who will rise to the occasion after Frank and Vaughan graduate this year.

“I would really encourage students to start thinking about issues that they care about,” Vaughan said.

Frank agreed, and said she and Vaughan are working on policy about student selection that feels more equitable. Their legacy, she hopes, will result in student directors “selected in a fair way, and having a fair board.”

While Vaughan and Frank were recruited for their positions, they both want the process to be a bit more inclusive and competitive in the future. To Frank, that might include more advertising about student positions, educating the student body on what a school board does, and doing away with a GPA requirement to determine eligibility.

Just what do these two students seen themselves pursuing after graduation?

For Vaughan, who was born in Port Townsend, its nonprofits and conservation work that she feels passionate about.

“I’m actually really interested in policy,” said Frank, who moved to Washington state while she was in the third grade. “This area of work is really interesting.”

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