Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Opportunity of A Lifetime

“Sorry, excuse me!” I murmured as I rushed through the crowd in front of the doors of the LeVonya DeJean auditorium. I spotted the knot of ILC students and hurried over. It was 6:10 PM, 5 minutes before we were supposed to meet for the school board meeting, so obviously I felt as though I was 10 minutes late. After some instructions from Mr. Rhea, we were able to mingle briefly, which I enjoyed because there hadn’t yet been an event where all of the ILCers were together. Eventually we all seated ourselves, making sure that we were grouped by cohort.

Before we were introduced, the school board took care of some of its everyday business. I was fascinated to observe the many speakers who appealed to the school board to keep funding adult education. There were about 20 speakers, ordinary members of the community, who aired their views about the issue. The passion in their voices was obvious, and it was touching to hear students speak so plainly about their need to take ESL classes so they could help their children with homework, and to hear teachers speak with pride of their students’ accomplishments and the good that these programs do.

I also realized that the process that allowed those community members to speak in front of the school board is very valuable. Although I suspect it becomes exasperating at times for the board to hear so many people, I think that it’s vital for community members to have a place to make their views heard, as decisions made by the school board can have major impacts for the WCCUSD. Education is a valuable resource for everyone, so everyone should get to speak up on these important issues.

Once all the speakers had shared their opinions, we moved on to the Ivy League Connection. Each cohort was called up and the chaperones introduced all 42 of the ILC participants, except for my friend Alex Wing, who was too ill to attend. After we were presented to the community and the school board, Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Rhea recognized and thanked the sponsors for making the program possible. Finally, Austin Long and Terilyn Chen gave speeches about their experiences in the ILC and the benefits that it gives to the community. Their speeches really brought home the opportunity we’ve been given and the responsibilities we have as ambassadors of the WCCUSD.

Eventually Don was able to gather all the students and parents, more than 100 people in total, and arrange us all to take the hallmark ILC picture. This is a truly impressive demonstration of Don’s expertise, as he manages to make us all look presentable in the final product, despite the unavoidable cases of blinking.

The school board meeting was a great opportunity to meet the rest of the 2012 ILC group, and I was especially happy to see the rest of my Penn cohort. I know that the amazing experience of going to Penn will be made even more exciting because of my traveling companions. Everyone is very friendly and open, and I can tell we will have a wonderful time on the East Coast.

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