Sydney Ackerman to serve as South Whidbey schools’ student voice

South Whidbey High School student Sydney Ackerman smiles sheepishly as her peers celebrate her nomination as the school board’s student representative.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
South Whidbey High School student Sydney Ackerman smiles sheepishly as her peers celebrate her nomination as the school board’s student representative.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Sydney Ackerman has a tiny voice for someone so tall.

Next school year, her voice will carry lots of weight as the South Whidbey School District’s student representative.

The current junior at South Whidbey High School received four-of-five school board member votes at their business meeting May 22. Only Jill Engstrom voted for someone else, junior Gavin Imes.

“I want to accomplish a more efficient relationship between the schools and the student board, so information, especially from students, can be understood,” Ackerman said.

Adding a non-voting student seat to the five-member school board came about earlier this school year. A trip to the Washington State School Directors Association conference gave the South Whidbey school board the idea to add a student voice to their ranks. They heard from other districts that had two student seats, but as a first-year program, South Whidbey school leaders were wary of seeking two students and getting none.

“We were wondering if we would have an applicant, and we had seven,” said Superintendent Jo Moccia.

Three to-be seniors and four to-be juniors applied for the position. From the class of 2014 were Lisa Walker, Imes and Ackerman. From the class of 2015 were Will Holbert, Ariana Abrahams, Cole Zink and Joseph Neil. Students had to be in and maintain “good” academic standing to be considered for the position in the first place.

“I’m very impressed with all seven of you. It says a lot about you and our schools,” said board Chairman Steve Scoles.

The major factor was the individual interviews conducted over a 90-minute period Wednesday afternoon. These 15, 16 and 17 year olds are not always well versed in the art of an interview. With many more to come, the board encouraged all of the applicants to seek input from Moccia about their interview.

“One of the things we (directors) all agreed on is it’s a wonderful teaching moment,” said board member Fred O’Neal. “Some of you were better interviewing than others.”

Serving as the student representative is a one-year term that spans a school year from July to June. The student is expected to attend all board workshops and board meetings, obey the rules and regulations pertaining to board members, including quorum rules, receive and review all meeting agendas, minutes and other relevant information and act as a liaison to the students in all South Whidbey schools through the ASB.

Ackerman, as the future executive treasurer for the high school ASB, said she wants to bring student life to the board’s attention. Serving as the student voice on the board is, in her words, a way to give back.

“The schools are so awesome for students, it’s the least I can do,” Ackerman said. “I feel that I owe it to the schools to give back and this is a cool way.”

Ackerman supported the idea to add a second student seat to the board.


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