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Student Board Reps Add to School Board Discussion

student board representatives are senior Sabine Hinkaty and junior Gus Renzin,A little known but important feature of the Hastings Board of Education is the student representation.
 
Each year, after going through an application process and vetting by the Student Union, a high school junior is appointed to the school board to serve for two years. This way, at any given time, a junior and a senior are serving, adding student voices to any school board discussion.
 
Current student board representatives are senior Sabine Hinkaty and junior Gus Renzin, who say they are committed to showing up to all the Board of Education meetings as well as Student Union meetings.
 
“This way we know what the students’ issues are and the board gets a sense of what is going on in the school and student views,” explains Hinkaty.
 
Interest in the position varies from year to year, from as low as two candidates to 12. This year’s application pool has eight candidates.
 
Renzin said he was encouraged to apply by a friend. “I’ve considered running for student offices, but I am more interested in policy and decision making than organizing. So, when I learned about the student board position I thought it would be perfect.”
 
He says he is thoroughly enjoying the experience and feels it’s also a great way to explore his interest in education, and “see it through a different lens.”
 
Hinkaty said her interest in serving as the student board representative stems from having a sister in special education. “There is always so much discussion regarding special education, and I am very interested in knowing what’s going on and feel I can offer some insight too.” She noted that having younger siblings gives her an understanding of student issues in the middle and elementary schools, as well. 
 
“The role of student liaison to the Board of Education is critical in helping the board and community understand what is on students‘ minds,” said School Board President Doug Sundheim. “Sabine and Gus have done an excellent job at not only bringing useful information to the board, but also in thoughtfully engaging in board conversations to help us gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of key issues.”
 
The two student representatives said that their peers also see them as a source as to what is being discussed at the board level. For instance, they both received emails from students concerned about the impact on classes of the May 17 budget vote.
 
They feel valued by the board and appreciate that board members consistently seek out their opinions. “They were particularly interested in our feedback after the drug and alcohol Panorama survey, and of course wanted to know on an ongoing basis how students were feeling during Covid and all the regulations,” said Hinkaty.
 
“Their respect for our position and our reports has really increased,” said Renzin, referring to the board and school administrators. “They really look to us as a source. We’re lucky to have this opportunity and their openness to student voices,” he said.