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Student board member hopes to apply lessons learned

Posted: March 16, 2013 1:00 p.m.
Updated: March 16, 2013 1:00 p.m.
Saugus High School senior Megan Mestas is serving this year as the student board member for the William S. Hart Union High School District. Saugus High School senior Megan Mestas is serving this year as the student board member for the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Saugus High School senior Megan Mestas is serving this year as the student board member for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Megan Mestas can still remember her first meeting as a member of the Hart district governing board.

“I was definitely nervous,” the 18-year-old Saugus High School senior said recently, shaking her head slightly. “I didn’t know anything. I didn’t really know anyone else on the board.”

“It was definitely intimidating.”

Mestas had reasons to be nervous — about 23,000 reasons in fact.

As she sees it, she represents the voices and opinions of that many students when the five members of the William S. Hart Union High School District board — six counting Mestas — meet every other week.
It’s not a responsibility she takes lightly.

“All the things the board passes have an impact on every one of the students in our district,” Mestas said. “And I have the one student vote.”

Much like her fellow board members, Mestas earned her seat through an election by her peers. During a meeting of the Student Communications Council, a body that liaisons among the student governments of the district’s junior high and high schools,

Mestas was elected as the student representative to the board beginning in November. Although her vote is strictly advisory, she says she feels like a full-fledged member of the board.

But this was hardly her first taste of peer-to-peer politicking.

Mestas has been involved in student government her entire high school career. As a freshman, she became involved in the school’s Associated Student Body by enrolling in an elective class.

“I didn’t even think about taking the class until a friend of mine said she was going to do it,” Mestas said.

But as time went by, she took to the elective more and more, fueled, she said, by a desire to help others any way she can.

Mestas was elected the president of her grade as a sophomore, then again as a junior.

Then, as senior year rolled around, she was elected head of the Saugus High student body.

And along with the title came a quasi-nickname, “Madame President,” which Mestas loathes.

“I really hate when people call me that,” she said. “That’s probably why they do it.”

Part of her mission, she said, is trying to show her peers their student government is more than just a glorified party-planning committee.

For instance, Mestas said, the Saugus ASB has to vote to approve many of the school’s expenditures.
“Of course, the more people we tell about that the more I hear, ‘Why are you spending money on that?’” Mestas said with a smile. “Pretty much the same as any government, I guess.”

It’s all part of the routine for Mestas, who has seen her freshman elective class turn into a series of expanded responsibilities accompanied by a barrage of near-daily meetings after school.

Now, as the conduit for the student voice on the district board, Mestas prepares reports on what is going on in district schools — the first of which was so thorough it prompted a round of applause from the audience and her fellow board members — and casts a vote on many board items.

Another one of her related, unofficial board duties is reminding current district board President Joe Messina to call on her for her vote, which he occasionally forgets to do.

“I sometimes want to jump in and say, ‘Hey, don’t forget about me!’” Mestas said, laughing. “But most of the time I trust someone to point out if he forgets, so I try not to.”

As for what lies ahead, Mestas said she would like to apply the outreach and social lessons she has learned in student politics to study communications at the University of Southern California.

Until then she’ll continue pursuing her interests, including hiking with her friends and snowboarding or skiing with her family.

And, of course, lording her position over Saugus’ rival schools.

“Especially Valencia (High School),” Mestas said. “I love to make fun of them.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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