New student voices added to Columbia Heights School Board

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Photo by Safiya Ahmed

Anoosha Ali (12) and Caroline Raleigh (11) pose together as the new student representatives for the Columbia Heights Public Schools Disctrict.

The city of Columbia Heights and Columbia Heights Public Schools are amplifying youth voices!

In fall of 2021, the Columbia Heights School Board voted in favor of including student representatives on the board. According to Brenna Zeimet, a current board member, the decision to have student representatives has been something they have been working towards for many years. Laura Palmer, another member of the board, has been the main drive towards getting student representation on the school board. 

At the moment, Palmer is still working with Superintendent Zena Stenvik to develop training and a support network for the student representatives, now in its second year of implementation. The hope is for the student representatives to eventually have a means of connecting with other students in similar positions around the state.

“The heart behind having student representatives is that the CHPS [Columbia Heights Public Schools] student body would have more input and opportunity to share concerns and student perspectives in the decision-making process,” Zeimet said. 

After last year’s inaugural student board representatives Kwot Anwey and Jihan Jama graduated, two new student representatives have been welcomed to the board: Anoosha Ali (12) and Caroline Raleigh (11). 

“The process of applying to the school board was pretty simple, consisting of a blind application [that] only required a short paragraph on why I would be best suited for the position of student representative,” Ali said. 

Ali made sure to put extra thought and care into her application as she knew being a representative on the school board was something that she really wanted to do. A part of the policy sub-committee, Ali provides insight as a member of the student body for potential policy changes, deletions or additions. 

Raleigh, who, full disclosure, is also a staff writer for The Heights Herald, finds herself very lucky to be representing the Columbia Heights Public Schools student body on the board. She is a member of the community engagement subcommittee, where she talks about school board-to-high school relations.

“I find my job on the school board very important,” Raleigh said. “[The board] needs more students from different backgrounds to make decisions that satisfy a diverse community such as Heights.” 

With high hopes and an exciting year of service ahead, the student representatives on the Columbia Heights school board look forward to bringing their voices and others’ to the table.