Turlock students have a couple of their own advocating for them and voicing their concerns on issues big and small when it comes to the Turlock Unified School Board of Trustees. Bella Kern and Kate Ogden are the student representatives on the TUSD Board and participate in the board’s bimonthly meetings.
The two high school representatives felt that their involvement in an array of activities gave them the experience they needed to make a difference on the Board.
“I really like Turlock High and I’m really involved, I feel like I do a lot. So, I feel like I can represent what’s going on, maybe not the best, but in a respectable way,” said Ogden.
“I feel like I have an advantage being involved in so many different clubs and so many different groups. I can really let so many voices of our students be heard. I really liked public speaking, so I feel I could get my point across and represent the students in the way that they get heard,” said Kern, a Pitman High student.
Ogden is an active member of her school’s debate and speech clubs, where she was speech captain. She was on the commission of the Key Club and on the Mock Trial squad. Athletically, Ogden also has competed in water polo and swimming for two years.
Kern is part of the ASB Green Team, cross country and track teams for the Pride. She was also an FFA captain last year, and she’s an active volunteer at her church.
Both representatives said they feel they can make a difference on the Board.
“I wanted to start an inner club council, where I can hear from representatives from every club…I want each student to know that they can come to me. I want our students to know there is someone that can tell these people in higher authority what they feel,” said Kern.
“I just want Turlock High to be seen in a respectable way and I want them to know everything they're doing. I also want to be that leader to show the underclassmen how we’re running things and being that second branch so they know what’s going on. I want to voice their ideas on how we can make our school better and being on the Board allows me to talk to people who are in charge and make the decisions,” said Ogden.
With recent discussions on masks and now vaccine mandates, Ogden and Kern have been exposed to the passion parents and community members have towards issues pertaining towards TUSD schools.
“I would never condone animosity or anything, but I do think it’s good they’re expressing how they feel. I mean it’s an open forum and anyone can express their opinions. I don’t mind it, I don’t think it’s directed at me, I think it’s how they feel in general and they’re allowed to feel that way. I think it’s great they get to say that stuff to people, we get to listen and maybe implement things that can help,” said Ogden.
“It gives me respect for Board members because they have been doing this for years. It really gives me empathy, because parents can be so mean sometimes and they can’t really do anything. The mask mandates or the vaccine mandates, that’s California, the Board can only do so much. It gives me a different perspective about how I’m going to act when I have kids and they go to school,” said Kern.
Both Board members see another big part of their job is to help increase student involvement in school activities. They both agree that it requires actively reaching out to students and explaining why it’s important to get involved.
“We have to make it more inclusive. We should be going out to lunch with not only our friends but going out talking to everyone and encouraging them. I think kindness and being inclusive is key to getting more students involved,” said Kern.
“I tell freshmen why they should go to games and why they should do school activities. I tell them it helps build community and help build friendships. It helps when you tell them why I participate in stuff,” said Ogden.
As both of them are finishing their high school careers, they are looking to continue their education by attending college next year. Ogden hopes to go to UC Davis or USC and major in business or economics. Kern is looking to get into a pre-law program at Willamette in Salem, Oregon or USC.