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President Obama once said, “change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Two Jamesville-DeWitt High School seniors, Jake Risavi and Livvy Behan, have embodied the meaning of this quote in their time at J-DHS.
Every year, the student body of J-DHS elects a slate of five or six students to be the voice of the students. The elections take place on J-D Day after a debate between the slates in front of the students. The slate is comprised of a combination of students who will be sophomores, juniors, and seniors at the start of the next school year.
Both Risavi and Behan have been a member of the slate in previous years. Behan began when she was eligible, starting off as secretary in 2014-15, and vice president in 2015-16. Risavi began his stint as the director of communications in 2015-16 They are co-Presidents for the 2016-17 school year.
“Jake and Livvy are great,” said J-DHS School Slate adviser Meghan McGee, “I enjoy working with them very much, and they work well together, which has been a very positive experience.”
Behan was approached near the end of her freshman year by members of the J-DHS Class of 2015, who were juniors at the time. “I didn’t really know anything about it, but they told me that they wanted to make a very positive change in the school and I wanted to be a part of that change,” said Behan.
Risavi was approached near the end of his sophomore year by a senior who suggested he join the slate in their campaign that spring. “I started because I knew it’d be a good way to help the school community,” said Risavi.
So what has the change been? The biggest policy change that has been made was a major change to the cell phone policy. During the 2014-15 school year, J-DHS began allowing students to use their cell phones during lunch periods. This was a huge change from the strict, no cell phone use during the school-day policy that had been in place.
However, Behan believes the biggest and most important change during their time on the school slate has been one that is less noticed because it doesn’t have to do with a policy. “We made the change that [the slate] are more involved and we actually meet with Mr. Gasparini and the school board to work on issues that we feel are important,” said Behan. According to Behan, the school slate meets with Gasparini at least once a month to discuss policies and improvements. Risavi agreed that it was important to meet with Mr. Gasparini more, and added that he thinks they have had “an overall positive impact on the school community.”
Ms. McGee has seen their greatest achievements in their work on putting together school events, most notably this year’s homecoming pep rally, which included a special message to hall monitor Jim Tuck as he recovers from complications with a broken leg and the multiple surgeries he’s needed to repair it.
While the two have done a lot for the school, their experiences have also greatly affected them. “They’re much more comfortable being in the spotlight than they were a couple of years ago because they are co-Presidents and have to run the show and be the voice of the students,” said Ms. McGee
While neither student is 100 percent certain of exactly how their experiences will translate into their futures, they know that some of the skills they have gained will certainly make them more successful in their careers.