Rome Free Academy senior Jordan Purrington feels it is important to include a student voice on the Board of Education in “these decisions that affect us...someone that has a different standpoint of things.”
She also thinks it is important for that voice to be “one that can see situations from both perspectives and...willing to listen to the other side, while simultaneously voicing their concerns and opinions.”
As the Rome school district’s first student representative on its Board of Education, Purrington aims to “carry out all of these things while satisfying our community members and students.” She attended her first board meeting in the position on Oct. 8, and the next meeting will be Oct. 22.
Adding a non-voting ex-officio student member to the board was approved by school district voters in the district election in June. The initiative included that a student board member would be at all the public meetings, but would not vote on matters before the board; the board has nine voting members. Former board member and president Stephen P. Hampe has noted he suggested the student board member concept about three years ago; last December, while still on the board, he had cited wide support for it by RFA students.
Purrington explained that after being elected as Student Association (STASS) president for the 2020-21 school year by the RFA student body, the association’s advisors/faculty put her forward for the school board representative position. The board at its Sept. 24 meeting approved a resolution appointing Purrington.
“Being approved for this position is very well an honor,” Purrington commented. “I am beyond thankful to be given this opportunity, while also being humbly excited to carry out this position. I’m anxious to see what the future holds and what I will be able to both learn and achieve with this opportunity.”
From the time of the community’s vote on the topic, noted Purrington, she had sought to become the student for that position.
“I feel that I will excel in this, as I am involved with various aspects of RFA and our community,” she commented.
Besides being STASS president, Purrington is an officer of the Future Business Leaders of America group at RFA; last year was president of the Rotary Interact club at RFA and this year was hoping to again be an officer in the service-oriented group; is involved with school musicals; is a member of the National Honor Society; and is a member of the varsity tennis and volleyball teams.
As a student representative on the school board, “I have many goals I hope to achieve...but one of my main priorities is to make sure my opinions and voice are representing the whole student population,” Purrington observed. “I want to make sure that my peers know I am speaking on behalf of every one of them, and that their thoughts are important. I hope to give our board members some new ideas as to what we can possibly do as a school community, including different projects and student-affiliated events.”
Purrington’s first board meeting on Oct. 8, which was held at the school district office but not include attendance by the public due to COVID-19, offered virtual access through an online Zoom meeting format. The meeting “went very well,” said Purrington, adding “it was very interesting and there is a lot I still need to learn. There were a lot of topics I was able to get a new look at, and some I was able to gain a deeper understanding towards.”
Among various topics during the three-hour-plus session were preparations for district students to return to general instruction classrooms Oct. 26 in a hybrid schedule after beginning the academic year on an all-remote basis; reports by the district finance and personnel departments; several appointments and approvals involving district staff; and approval of emergency repairs at the building that hosts the district’s central offices and its pre-K program.
Purrington expressed thanks to “everyone that had a part in the approval for this position.” Emphasizing being thankful and excited for the opportunity, she also said “I’m confident that I will bring a positive voice to our school board.”
Purrington will serve in the position through the end of the current 2020-21 school year in June. A successor would be appointed for the 2021-22 school year, and she said the process for that has not been determined yet.