Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Much Younger School Board

Despite the fact that only four candidates ran for four seats in the Pottstown School Board election this month, six members will begin their terms when the board re-organizes on Dec. 5.

And as many as eight will take the oath of office.

Don't be confused.

It's because when the board re-organizes, it will welcome two student members of the board and their two alternates.

Bishop Corney
The two students chosen to represent the student body on the school board are Bishop Corney, representing the seniors and Gary Wise, representing the juniors.

The two alternates are Sara Pargeon, daughter of former board member Michele Pargeon, and Katrina Belemontes.

The four were chosen from about one dozen applicants by the district administration and High School Principal Jeffrey Hartmann.

Each submitted a letter of application, had to agree to attend board meeting, have no outstanding disciplinary or academic
issues, as well as be willing to convey the essence of the school board meetings to the school during homeroom announcements.

In his letter, which can be viewed in full by clicking here, Corney wrote that "through my life, I have had a great deal of experience in all different positions; anywhere from being a busboy at a catering company, to the vice president or historian of a club.

"Through all of that, I have learned that every voice matters, and all must be considered to benefit
Gary Wise
everyone involved. Thus my plan is to hear the cries of anyone who is willing to rise up their voice wishing to improve this school and everyone in the building from the teachers down to the students."

Corney also received letters of recommendation from English teachers Katie Minger and Leslye C. Blackwell.

In his letter, Wise wrote that he has lived in Pottstown his entire life and is  captain of the football team.

He is also vice president of the Class of 2015 and a member of the school's Advanced Placement Academy.

"Being part of the school board and giving students the chance to have a say on things is very special to us," Wise wrote. "I hope that being part of the school board will shape me to become a better leader, student, person in my community and gentleman."

He received letters of recommendation from Bishop Everett V. Debnam, senior pastor at Invictus Ministries Inc. and English teacher Helen Bowers.

Katrina Belmontes
Born in Trinidad and Tobaggo and moving to Pottstown in 2011, Belmontes wrote in her letter she feels she could bring an international perspective to the board.

"I believe that if I am given the opportunity to sit on the school board, I could help make Pottstown an even better school district, not only because of my diversity but also because I would listen to what the students would like to see changed," she wrote.

She received letters of recommendation from Deacon and Elder Clifford and Lucie Williams and English teacher Helen Bowers.

"The board is run by only adults, and although they may be much wiser and much more mature than most teenagers, the idea of having a responsible teenager on the board is beneficial to the district," Pargeon wrote in her letter.

Sara Pargeon
"I am dedicated to my school and my district," wrote Pargeon, who noted she has a sister in middle school and a brother in elementary school, and so insight into all three levels of education.

"When I represent them, I will not be speaking just for myself and for my opinion, I will be speaking for the betterment of the Pottstown School District," she wrote.

Pargeon had letters of recommendation from Erika Hornberg-Cooper, executive director of ArtFusion 19464 and English teacher Cal Benfield.

According to the rules put together by the community relations committee which set the conditions for membership, the student board members can be removed for grades falling too low to allow participation in extra-curricular activities or missing three consecutive meetings, a standard not applied, apparently to some of the adult board members.

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