18-year-old Makes Run for School Board


Alyssa Hernandez. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Alyssa Hernandez, 18-year old Senior at Rich East High School, has tossed her hat in the ring and is running for the District 227 School Board. It’s easy to assume that Alyssa got caught up in “Obamamania” and decided to run for public office, but one only needs to spend a few minutes talking to Alyssa to realize that this young woman’s decision to run was based on a long held belief that individuals can bring about change.

Alyssa’s accomplishments to date are very significant. She’s a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, and President of both Rich East’s Student Council and National Honor Society. In addition, Alyssa currently serves as the student representative for the School Board and attends the Board meetings. As a result, Alyssa says she is keenly aware of the current Board issues. In fact, Alyssa says that when some business matter comes up at a Board meeting that she is not fully aware of, she makes it a point to research the issue to make herself more knowledgeable.

Alyssa plans to attend DePaul University in the fall. While she would love to experience college life by living on campus, if she wins the election, she plans on commuting to DePaul so that she can stay in touch with needs of the community in order to best serve its needs.

Of all her studies at Rich East, Alyssa feels that studying history has helped her most when analyzing business-related issues. Alyssa said that a teacher shared George Santayana’s philosophy that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and feels that some current problems might not be as significant as they currently are if our leaders remembered to look to the past. For example, Alyssa said that when studying about the Great Depression she noticed that some of the economic mistakes made during this crisis appear to have been made again possibly playing a role in today’s economic problems.

Alyssa feels she will bring a unique perspective to the Board since she is currently experiencing first-hand what is happening in the schools. Alyssa is fully cognizant of the fact that there are many more needs than available funding. According to Alyssa, parents make their initial decisions on what school to send their children based on academic scores. “But if the parents come to the school and it doesn’t feel safe, or isn’t clean, they have the option to take their children to another school” Alyssa said. Fewer students ultimately means less available funding for the schools as Alyssa pointed out.

Alyssa indicated that when the Board is expected to do ‘more with less’ funding, too frequently the first option explored to reduce expenses is to cut programs. She feels that over time, how the money is spent should be examined to determine if the school’s needs are still the same, are the right people doing the job, and/or is the job still necessary. Alyssa believes that such an exercise should be done every few years regardless of the budget situation so that the funding is continuously used to meet changing priorities.

Alyssa also pointed out that she felt lucky to have been in honors classes at Rich East. But she believes that the students that don’t excel at academics should be afforded the same quality of education as those in the honors classes.

While Alyssa is of the opinion that District 227 has done a good job in making certain that the school’s infrastructures are improved and maintained as necessary, she thinks that the District should explore more environmental solutions similar to those recently undertaken at Governors State University. As Alyssa pointed out implementation of solar panels and energy efficient lighting, for example, is not only good for the environment, over time it saves the schools money as well.

Alyssa’s campaign is being managed by her mother, Lydia. While she feels that her current base of supporters are primarily her 18-year-old peers, she knows that she can’t win this election without the support of older voters as well. She is planning on recruiting campaign volunteers to help spread her message. Never one to waste time, Alyssa will be spending her Pulaski Day school holiday (March 2nd) holding her first fundraiser at Lakewood Bowl, 5125 Sauk Trail, Richton Park, from 12 Noon to 2PM. Tickets are $10.00 and can be purchased at the door. The ticket price includes two hours of bowling, shoes, refreshments and a raffle. For more information on the event or to reserve a ticket, call 708-705-5208.

More information about Alyssa’s campaign can be found at www.joinalyssa.blogspot.com