District 228 Students in Leadership

District 228 Students in Leadership
By: Sharon Filkins, Daily Southtown
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As the Bremen High School District 228 School Board began its regularly scheduled January meeting a couple weeks ago at Hillcrest High School, it was clear there would be nothing routine about this meeting.

For a day, at least, the students would be running the show.

At the Annual Students in Leadership School Board Meeting, students from the district’s high schools stepped into the roles of administrators and School Board members.

The program, which began with a dinner for the students, their families, board members, and administrators, was a culmination of a week’s preparation. Students are selected by the principals from the district’s four high schools, Bremen, Tinley Park, Hillcrest, and Oak Forest, based on attributes such as leadership qualities and interest in related career paths.

Forty students were selected. They spent a full day learning about district goals, meeting with administrators and what is required to run a board meeting. They also had an opportunity to provide feedback about what they like about their schools or what they think needs improving.

Tinley Park seniors Bruce Wood, who filled the role of board vice president, and Todd Mitchell, who was a student presenter, said they enjoyed the opportunity.

Wood said he enjoyed the experience because it made him feel important to be involved in actual decisions. But he also added that he was totally surprised to learn how much it costs to run a school.

“I was amazed at the cost and all the details involved in the management of the school,” Wood said, who plans to pursue a career in diesel mechanics. “I had no idea of the complexity of it all.”

Mitchell, who plans to join the Army after graduation, said the feedback session was the most enjoyable part of the workshop.

“It was just great to have that open discussion,” he said. “Everyone was chiming in and it was very thought-provoking.”

At the meeting, Mitchell spoke to the board about the district’s practice of rating the top ten students.

“I believe that it is discouraging to other students and is divisive. It would be better to increase the number to the top 50. It would be more inclusive and much fair to the student body,” he said.

School Board President Kristine Resler, a Tinley Park resident and mother of three TPHS graduates, said the feedback is beneficial to students and administrators alike.

“I really appreciate their comments,” she said. “They are very well-spoken and I couldn’t be happier to have them here. All of the participants in the board meeting were excellent.

“We look forward to each of these events. We want to help our students build successful life paths. We are not there every day so it is special to hear what the kids are thinking. We also hope this event will encourage our students to attend the school district board meetings so they can understand what the schools are doing.

“This experience reminds me of why I get up each day,” she said.

She added that each of the district schools is great and each has its own character. “The school board members are all volunteers and it is rewarding to participate in events such as this and to know we have a part in it. Overall, we want our students to know we want the best for them.”