SHS students add voices to school board

Students discuss plans for their roles with Siuslaw District

Jan. 25, 2023 (Florence) - Siuslaw High School juniors Riley Olson and Tiffany Rasmussen have been selected to be members of the school board, serving as the first to occupy two student board member positions that the board plans to maintain in the future. 

Olson and Rasmussen took the oath of position and became official board members during the December 14 session. 

“This is very exciting that we are now having students be a part of our board,” says vice-chair Maureen Miltenberger. “We have all discussed this and we are all very excited, so this is very important to us.” “We’ve been talking about this since last year and it finally came to fruition, so I think we are all really excited about the future here,” adds director Frank Armendariz. 

One of the primary goals of giving students a place on the school board is to hear the opinions of those who are most affected by the board’s decisions. “I can speak as someone who has been to Siuslaw for a long time now — it has its flaws,” says Riley Olson. “I was hoping that if I had some influence from the inside I would be able to be the change I wanted to see.” 

Olson applied for the board position at the recommendation of principal Michael Harklerode, seeking a way to improve the student experience. “The people who are on the board make the changes, they write the rules, they sign the signatures, but they are not seeing the impacts of those firsthand. They’re not the students who have to experience what happens after those [decisions]. The whole point of my position is to enlighten and represent what the students want and what would be in their best interest.”

Tiffany Rasmussen similarly applied for a board position as a way to contribute to her community. “I’ve always been involved with extracurricular activities and events that have happened in the communities that I have lived in and at [my] schools, so I really love being involved,” she says. “I really wanted to be able to represent my fellow peers and their needs and wants and to be able to express their opinions. . . .The community here is really amazing, so I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my peers.” 

One of the primary goals of the Siuslaw School District is to increase student achievement, especially by evaluating the needs of the district and increasing community participation, a target which students are approaching through participation on the board. 

“Everyone is so separated, so I think activities to get people involved with each other would be really beneficial,” says Rasmussen. “All of the changes I plan on making in the future are 100 percent for the benefit of the students,” says Olson. “Things involving policy, making the experience more comfortable, making the learning environment better, making sure there is less tension, violence, segregation, fighting, and overall just increasing the morale of the students in any way that we can.” 

Regular school board meetings are open to the public. “If you are a community member, it is great to sit in, talk, hear what is happening at the big table, and really get an idea of what they’re thinking,” says Olson. “There are always open comments, so if you as a community member want to contribute ideas, thoughts, opinions, or beliefs, there is a time for you to do that [as well as] to ask questions and critique.” 

The next regular board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Feb. 8.