New Paltz School Board Welcomes Student Liaison
The New Paltz Central School District Board of Education (BOE) has welcomed a new student liaison: Grade 11 student Samantha Wong-Pan of Gardiner. Wong-Pan assumed her position as Student Representative to the Board in December.
Wong-Pan explained that though the BOE was seeking a New Paltz senior for the role, she requested the opportunity to apply, believing that she could serve as a bridge between the high school student community and the BOE. “I was especially interested in serving this year because there is this experimental-type of schooling with remote and hybrid learning,” she said, adding that she feels student input for the current school year is of paramount importance.
Wong-Pan has already attended her first meeting, listening attentively and taking notes to learn the ropes. She is working with the Student Council to create a survey for feedback about school schedules, class enrollment preferences, conflicts faced by students, and their attitudes towards attendance policies. Wong-Pan said the surveys will likely be distributed by the end of January.
Wong-Pan’s responsibilities as student representative have not been as daunting as they may have been in years past, due to the fact that very few events and activities have been occurring during the pandemic. She will serve in her liaison role until the conclusion of the school year.
“I have heard that there were some complaints that there is a lack of communication between the students, teachers, and the BOE,” she said. “I want to make sure that everyone is heard, especially the students.”
Wong-Pan also expressed interest in helping to stage an online student forum. She envisions the creation of a website students can use to ask questions, find updated information, and participate in discussions about school-related events.
BOE President Glenn LaPolt explained that it is the responsibility of the student representative to inform the BOE of student happenings. “Both the Superintendent [Angela Urbina-Medina] and I feel it is important and necessary for her to not just tell us what’s going on, but also to elevate the voices of her fellow students,” he said. “In this current situation, it is important that the students are heard.” LaPolt added that both he and Urbina-Medina were impressed with Wong-Pan’s drive, willingness to engage the Board, and her desire to serve her classmates. “The role of the student representative ensures the students will always have a seat at the Board table,” he said.
Wong-Pan’s academic and sports activities include Model United Nations, Mathletes, Immigrant Defense Club, Environmental Club, and student government. She is also a part of the school’s Nordic Ski team. Outside of school, she enjoys running and kickboxing.
Wong-Pan is passionate about taking action, whether that means working to improve school clubs or helping to protect the environment. “I am thankful that I have been raised in such an amazing community and school district that teaches about wildlife conservation, and I hope to continue to learn about and contribute to helping the environment as I grow up,” she said.
Wong-Pan feels it is premature to choose her future career or college major, but after college, she is interested in following her father’s footsteps into the medical field. “My father is a physical therapist in New Paltz, and my mother is a lawyer, and it is incredibly inspiring to see both of them help and heal people,” she said. “It is beyond words how much I hope to be like them when I grow up.”
The next Board meeting will be on Wednesday, March 3, at 7 PM. The agenda and link to the BOE meeting livestream will be posted on the District website 15 minutes prior to the meeting.