The 2019 Eden Prairie School Board Election has been an ongoing event in this city. Throughout the last few months, yard signs, banners and paid advertisements have become increasingly visible.

This year’s 10 candidates are Aaron Casper, Aaron Orwick, Adam Seidel, Albert Born, Debjyoti Dwivedy, Erin Barstad, Esra Riggs, Fadumo Hassan, Krystal Queen and Veronica Stoltz. After reading Eden Prairie News’ Q&As with each of the candidates, I narrowed the interview questions down to the one that I believe is the most pertinent: “What would be your top priorities as a School Board member?” The following are my paraphrased versions of their responses, in case you missed it.

Aaron Casper believes the parents’ and district staff’s voices should always be considered for determining the improvement decisions that Eden Prairie should make. He also wants to implement his plans for providing opportunities to students who may not want to follow a four-year college degree path in their future.

Aaron Orwick is eager to execute the Designing Pathways referendum, and will make certain that there is continued focus on personalized learning for students. Orwick would additionally like to conduct a survey on expanding elementary school offerings in our district.

Adam Seidel knows that Eden Prairie provides world-class education to students, but since that can be damaged, he campaigns that we need to maintain our district through constant personal and organizational work.

Albert Born wants Eden Prairie to challenge students and help get them out of their comfort zone. He also wants to further develop nutritious eating habits in school cafeterias, and will ensure that teachers and staff are retained.

Debjyoti “DD” Dwivedy prioritizes school safety, and believes that along with physical safety, students’ devices and school system data need to be secured and protected. Smart spending practices are on DD’s list as well, as he wants all students to have equal opportunities in school.

Erin Barstad will make sure that teachers are given the support they need in order to help students reach their highest potential. School safety and special education would be amongst Barstad’s main targets as a school board member.

Esra Riggs will have the safety and well-being of students in mind, and will enable smaller class sizes in schools. Riggs believes that school lunch menus should accommodate various food allergies, and that students in elementary schools should be provided with more recess time.

Fadumo Hassan wants to connect with parents, students and teachers. Hassan will listen to their concerns and make decisions based on those, because she is passionate about valuing and respecting everyone.

Krystal Queen will further close the achievement gap. Queen is also a believer of inclusion and diversity, and as a school board member she will apply that along with personal and professional development to decisions.

Veronica Stoltz wants to see problems solved resolutely, rapidly, and collaboratively. She firmly believes that all students’ needs should be met, no matter what. Stoltz will make decisions with the welfare of all students in mind.

If I were to answer the same question as a student of Eden Prairie since kindergarten, this would be my response:

I would like to see more parts of our curriculum and assessments directed toward individual needs. All of us have different ways in which we process information. For example, my French teacher (Madame Hennen) composes a song in the tune of a famous nursery rhyme for every verb conjugation we learn. This has helped me connect with our material, as I learn best musically. She gives us French board games for students who learn that way as well. Also, while we are fortunate to have various STEM opportunities in middle and high school, we could revamp STEM-based activities in elementary schools. Lastly, I have to emphasize that it’s a lot easier to establish a habit in children than teaching a new habit when they are older. Therefore, we could inculcate environmentally-aware practices starting at the elementary level. It would be great if the School Board considered the long-term value of this investment.

The school board candidates are ready to tackle important issues with students, staff, parents and the overall community in mind. I support that, and look forward to seeing the elected members take action.

Aspiring journalist Harini Senthilkumar is a ninth-grader at Eden Prairie High School. She enjoys singing and writing. Disclaimer: She is not endorsing any candidate for Eden Prairie School Board.

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