Meet Your District's Student Board of Education Liaisons: Morris Smith
Two high school seniors are chosen each year to serve as student representatives to the Collingswood Public School District Board of Education. Meet this year's bright young liaisons.
For the past three years, monthly meetings of Collingswood Public School District Board of Education have required two additional chairs at the board member table.
Seats are not reserved for publicly elected board members, but for students.
Before school ends in June, a loudspeaker announcement at Collingswood High School extends students the opportunity to learn inner workings of their district.
"At the close of the school year, (high school administration) takes a look at the top students in the junior class, who will become seniors in the fall," said Collingswood High School Principal Edward T. Hill. "An announcement is made to juniors who may be interested in being a liaison to the school board. We meet any interested students, who fill out applications. Then, myself and other staffers conduct applicant interviews."
Next, Hill sends the names of two worthy students to Collingswood Public School District's administration office. Once approved, the new student liaisons are officially notified.
"We choose two students, so that if one can't make a (board of education) meeting, the other will be present," said Hill. "The student board liaisons serve as a great communication tool between the high school and the school board."
Students serve throughout senior year, attending monthly board meetings and acting as a voice for the student body. Though not permitted to vote on agenda items with official board administration, liaisons assist by relaying school events, student concerns, and representing district youth.
Prior to each monthly board meeting, Principal Hill meets the two representatives to review and perfect points they'll raise to board members.
Meet Your School Board Liason: Morris Smith
Because borough resident and 17-year-old Morris Smith's exceptional high school roster shined equally in athletic, extracurricular and academic areas, he landed in the principal's office.
But in Smith's case, being summoned by the principal came as a good sign.
"After I'd filled out my application, Mr. Hill called me into his office one day," said Smith. "And he asked me if I wanted to be a student liaison to the board. I went home and asked my parents about (the offer), and they immediately said I should do it."
And he's had no trouble adding the new position to current ones, such as: acting as pit captain for the marching band; playing varsity basketball and baseball; and participating in extracurriculars like senior board homeroom, National Honor Society and Paw Print, the high school newspaper.
Smith sat in on his first school board meeting this past August, just before the school year began. Since then, he's learned skills that will likely assist him later.
"I haven't been accepted (to a college) yet, but I want to study civil engineering," said Smith. "The career I'd like to pursue is as a construction manager. That means I have to tell this guy to make sure this is in order, and tell that guy to get materials; to make sure everybody's where they need to be. After seeing how a school board functions, and the structure (within), I'm already learning the managing skills that I'll need in my future."
Smith has even listed the liaison experience on college applications.
"So far, being a student liaison for the board of education has given me a lot of insight into what's going on in our public school system," he said. "My favorite part of meetings are the public portions, when you get to hear the proposals and concerns from members of the public. You start to understand all the issues that are going on in your town, which is teaching me a lot."
As for his high school principal, the growth Smith's made as a board liaison comes as no shock.
"Morris is a great all-around student," said Hill. "He's excellent in the classroom, involved in marching band, in basketball and baseball, and he's able to successfully manage his time between academics and extracurriculars—and he does very well at it."