Farmington sophomore wants more students involved in government
When a large group of students showed up to speak their minds at a Farmington School Board meeting last week, Wyatt Cieluch knew he was on the right track.
The students were there to protest a construction schedule that would push this spring’s graduation out of Tiger Stadium, but what Cieluch saw was students who were passionate, who had opinions and who would be perfect for his plan to find a place for students on all of Farmington’s boards and commissions.
Cieluch, a sophomore, transferred to FHS in December. When he was a student at Northfield High School, he participated in a program called Youth on Boards, which recruits students and matches them with elected and appointed boards in the area. Cieluch served on Northfield’s economic development authority, but there were also spots for students on the city council, the school board and the parks board.
The idea, Cieluch said, is to allow students to connect with parts of local government they’re passionate about, and to provide the city’s decision-makers with input from students. Students do not get a vote, but they can offer a perspective elected or appointed officials might not have considered.
The Farmington School Board has three student board members, but Cieluch said the reaction to the stadium construction decision made it clear board members could have used more student input.
“I think it gives (boards) an opportunity to see what the youth is thinking,” Cieluch said. “It’s a pretty big population.”
Cieluch is still early in the process for getting the Youth on Boards initiative started. He addressed the school board at last week’s meeting, and he was scheduled to meet with superintendent Jay Haugen and FHS principal Jason Berg on Monday. He hopes to meet with city and Dakota County officials soon. He also has to find a staff advisor willing to oversee the group and put together an application for students who are interested in taking part.
If everything goes according to the timeline Cieluch has laid out, he will start handing those applications out in May and choose the first group of student board members before summer break.
“For students who have a passion in one area or another, it gives them an opportunity to explore that passion,” he said.