Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Education

Five seniors vie for student seat on Hernando County School Board

Central High School senior Joey Katz has no patience for bullies.

He remembers when a habitual bully was bothering one of the freshmen at Central. It angered him, and he told the principal. The bully then threatened Katz.

Now Katz is looking for a new tool to try to stop bullying in Hernando schools. The 17-year-old is one of five high school seniors running for Hernando County School Board student representative.

The election is today.

Katz has been campaigning in the elementary, middle and high schools, which, he explained, all have delegates.

The delegates will select one of the five as their representative on the board, then meet with him or her to present their issues.

Katz says he wants a say in making schools safer.

After he graduates, he plans to attend the University of South Florida as a pre-med student.

Sean Chapman, 18, is the candidate from Springstead High School. He says he was encouraged by his parents to get a good education and said, "I want to make sure the academic environment is the same or better when I leave."

He agrees that bullying is a serious issue, but also worries about students, especially those in elementary and middle schools, who can't afford school-sponsored activities and sports.

After graduation, Chapman hopes to attend college out of state to study either nuclear or chemical engineering.

Alexandra Rey, 17, is the Hernando High candidate. She agreed to run for the position, she said, because "I like to get things done. I feel that because I am a good leader, I think I can get a lot of the things kids want done."

Her leadership positions include senior class president, National Honor Society vice president and school advisory council secretary.

Her concerns include bullying and academics. She said she would like to see high school students advising younger students about how to deal with bullies and see high school and middle school students tutoring or mentoring younger ones.

"We want this county smart," she said.

Rey hopes to attend the University of Tampa or Vanderbilt University to study communications or business.

Matt Rhineberger, 17, attends Nature Coast Technical High School. He says he agreed to run for the School Board position because "a lot of students come to me with their concerns because I'm the president of SGA (Student Government Association), and I really like being their voice."

Again, bullying is one of his main concerns.

Rhineberger said it is not so much of an issue at his school because of Nature Coast's anti-bullying committee, and he would like to see that effort spread to other schools.

He has been campaigning at other schools to become familiar with them and learn their concerns. He said he owed thanks to his election team for their assistance.

Rhineberger is looking at the University of Florida or Florida State University for pre-law or political science.

Kayla Lewis, 17, is the Weeki Wachee senior vying for the board position.

"I have a really big heart for kids," she said. "I feel like I would be a good choice because I know what kids want."

Lewis said she is concerned about budget cuts and changes in the district.

"I've been in the school system for a very long time, and I've seen things taken away," she said.

She said she thinks decisions made now will be around for a while and wants to be sure programs she had are available for future students. And she wants to encourage students to take advantage of middle school classes that can give them a jump-start on high school.

Lewis wants to work with children as a guidance counselor and hopes to earn her degree from the University of Florida.

The candidates for School Board student representative were selected by teachers, administrators and, in some cases, fellow students.

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