BROOKSVILLE — Sophia Torres, a Hernando High School senior, admitted that her emotions were running strong, but she kept her composure as she thanked student delegates for electing her the student member of the Hernando County School Board for 2019-2020. The election took place September 18 in the School Board office.
“All the students come together, and this is the best way to make change,” said Torres. District superintendent John Stratton was the first to congratulate Torres.
Applause rang out, and four other candidates whose names were on the ballot gathered around Torres. They included: Dylan Fox Chapman from Central High; Jada Smith from Nature Coast High; Charlize Soares from Springstead High; and Evan Bronhard from Weeki Wachee High.
Those not elected will serve on the District Student Advisory Council, which meets with Torres through the year to review actions of the board. Torres will take student concerns to the board.
She plans to promote kindness and make student mental health a priority, she said. Her statement earned nods of approval from students and adults, including many parents who gathered for the meeting.
Torres is the daughter of Amy and Kevin Torres, West Hernando Middle School teachers. Sophia Torres plans to attend college, working toward a degree in psychology, focusing on mental health.
Each school in the county sent two voting delegates; those from elementary schools were fourth- or fifth-graders. Delegates were peer leaders or members of student government.
The faculty coordinator for the program is Tori Hunt from Springstead High. She served as the first student delegate to the board in 2011-2012. Her goals were focused on anti-bullying and adding sidewalks for students who walk up to 2 miles every day to their schools.
“All students in Hernando County are part of this process of electing a student representative,” Hunt said.
Before the voting, Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Shirley Anderson spoke to students about voter rights and responsibilities and the importance of knowing candidates and their platforms.
“It’s very important to know who you are voting for and what you are voting about,” Anderson said. “You may plant the seed to get important change started.”
Gail Diederich is a retired Pasco County teacher of 32 years. She writes feature stories with an education focus for Pasco and Hernando counties. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org