Reno High School senior Nathaniel Haas is the student representative on the Washoe County School Board.
How were you chosen?
The [Washoe County School] District decided to bring back the Student Advisory Board last year, and they contacted all the principals and asked them for two students from each high school. One would be a freshman, one would be a junior. … And it was so successful they decided to bring back the student representative to the [School] Board of Trustees … And from that group, they asked us to apply for the one position, and that person would then sit in on the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees. … Some of us applied and went through an interview process, and then I was chosen.
Is there a job description?
Well, the student representative is basically responsible for providing the perspective of a student to the Board meetings and the decisions of the Board. And so it’s my job to let [them] know what’s important to students and use my own experience in school and, still being a senior at Reno High, to decide what is important for students and to represent the students and ask questions and write opinions that would reflect the general student population.
What has the experience been like for you?
It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve definitely learned a lot, you know, just at the basic level of government. It’s been very cool to sit in on the meetings and participate in the democratic process at such a basic level as a school board. And so it’s been a great experience, especially also to get to know all the trustees and all the people at the district and all the people that run the education system in Washoe County.
What kind of latitude are you given? Can you make motions? I saw that you can ask questions.
Well, you know, the trustees are elected positions, obviously, so I’m not allowed to vote. … However, I haven’t actually asked if I’m able to make motions or second motions, but they do allow me to provide any input that I have, ask any questions of the presenters or the trustees. So for the most part, it’s the same as the other trustees, except for, it’s the trustees vote at the end.
Do you get the same kind of materials as the board members get? The printed matter that’s put in front of them, is it put in front of you?
I do. All the trustees—and the public—have access to the online agenda and then all the online presentations. And then at the meeting, there’s paper copies provided and they do make a copy for me. … For example, they’re doing the redistricting process, and I was given the 33 or so full color maps. … So it’s great to be included and given the same materials as the board members.
Are there any problems with a student from Reno High School speaking for all the students?
You know, I don’t think so. I think that as a student representative, it’s important to represent all the students. And since all the students are obviously not at Reno High School, then it’s my job to, you know, make opinions and ask questions and say things on behalf of all the students and not just the students at Reno High School.
Is it required that the student representative be a senior?
I’m assuming that that’s not the case, because they opened up the application to the student advisory board [which contained] freshman members and junior members last year, at the time.