SPRING HILL — Students have something to say about their educations, and the Hernando County School Board recognizes that.
The board allows this through student delegates who are selected at their schools. They, in turn, select a senior from one of the five high schools to be their School Board representative.
Springstead High School senior Joe Masotti, 17, was chosen during an Oct. 4 election at the School Board office under the direction of the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office. He was selected from a group of five seniors — also including Central High School’s Thomas Annitto, Hernando High’s Alison Pager, Nature Coast Technical High’s Faith Williams and Weeki Wachee High’s Julianne Bence.
The seniors could campaign for votes. Masotti said he texted, called, emailed or visited schools to talk with any students he could reach. On the day of the election, he said, there was an opportunity to mingle with the voters, shake hands and hear their concerns.
Besides the five seniors, the student delegates included a junior from each high school, a seventh-grader and eighth-grader from each middle school, an eighth-grader and a fifth-grader from each K-8 school and a fourth-grader and a fifth-grader from each elementary school. But, Masotti explained, only the seniors, eighth-graders and elementary school fifth-graders were allowed to vote. The others were there for support.
"This is my first year in this program," Masotti said. And he appreciates the opportunity.
"I think a lot of the time the School Board doesn’t always know the needs of the students," he said, pointing out he didn’t mean that in a bad way. "They’re not in the schools. It’s nice to have a student voice in there."
Masotti and the other seniors addressed the voting delegates at the election, trying to sway votes in their directions. Masotti suggested he had the edge because he has ideas the voters liked.
He wondered if it might be a good idea to have pep rallies for eighth-graders at the end of the school year to excite the upcoming high school freshmen and perhaps calm their nerves as well. He said he thought high school students could go to middle schools and K-8s with rallies and information about high school clubs, sports, what kind of homework load to expect and how to balance sports and clubs with academics.
He would like to see more technology in schools, including iPads funded by grants. He also said students might benefit by having more say about their lunches.
"They’re the ones eating, so they should have a choice of what they eat," he said.
Masotti also would like for the School Board to look at end-of-course testing, especially for specials and electives.
"If you’re learning to take a test," he said, "it’s not going to be fun, and if you’re not going to enjoy it, it’s not going to be effective."
After high school, Masotti intends to attend an in-state college to study philosophy. Then he would like to go to law school. He is president of the Springstead High Model U.N. Club and volunteers at Gulf Coast Academy, helping teach sixth-graders bto uild and program robots.
He said he is "very much" interested in politics and would perhaps like to go into the judicial branch of government. And he is involved in local politics.
"I am involved with the Hernando Democrats," he said, and he has started the High School Democrats of Hernando County.