Sophomore Jenna Biggs knows why she is running for school board: she wants to give a voice to students who have been ignored at the administrative level.
“I am here for the students, for the people, and for the community,” Biggs said. “I wanted to make a change in my community.”
Biggs, 18, is running for a school board seat in the Bedford Public School District in Bedford Township, Michigan. Biggs is familiar with the way that the school board in Bedford operates. While she was in high school, she was a student representative to the school board.
When she went to her first board meeting as a student representative, however, she was unimpressed.
“I was disappointed in how they treated students’ comments and students’ perspectives on things,” she said.
This lack of interaction with high school students motivated Biggs to run for a seat herself.
“They almost didn’t acknowledge students or their ideas,” Biggs said. “I definitely have the skills and critical thinking abilities to make informed votes.”
Biggs centers her platform on three things: common-sense voting, increasing student morale, and improving communication between administrators on the school board and students. Biggs said she is concerned with the morale of students in Bedford, based on recent events and the way they have been handled.
“A lot of our students have gone through some tough times,” Biggs said. “We’ve had a lot of deaths in our high school recently, we’ve had bullying cases, and a lot of those cases have been shoved under the mat.”
Biggs wants to confront these issues, and hopes that doing so will also improve academic performance.
“I think we really need to bring attention to student happiness and the best ways to increase that, in order to have our academic standards go up,” she said.
She also wants to make sure student voices are heard by the school board. She said she does not think the current school board has listened to the students when writing legislation.
“This communication is lacking in my opinion, I’d like to make an effort for the administration to hear the students feedback,” Biggs said. “They’re making all of these different policies and voting on all of these different things, with no idea what they are like for the people who they affect. These are all common sense things we need to make sure are happening.”
If elected, Biggs will have to balance her academics and her duties on the board. She said she is up for the challenge.
“Here at Hillsdale, I have all of these great resources to help me, like my professors,” Biggs said. “Board meetings are Thursday nights once a month, so they will not interfere with my classes.”
Biggs has a lot of support back home, from her family and community. One person who especially looks forward to seeing Biggs elected to the school board is former Bedford teacher, Mary Dunn.
“She knows what’s going on in the school system,” Dunn said. “She’s a good negotiator, she’s a good listener, yet she’s very strong in her opinions. She is going to make a difference in the world.”
Biggs’ peers at Hillsdale also believe in her campaign and qualifications.
“She knows how to crack down and get stuff done,” Sophomore Erin Flaherty said. “She doesn’t let her emotions get the best of her. She’s great at networking, great at making decisions. I think she’s more in touch with what’s going on in public education than people who graduated 10 or 20 years ago.”
Biggs’ work supervisor, Admissions Counselor Kat Vael, said her work ethic will carry into her potential position on the school board.
“She is a passionate young lady and an engaging person,” Vael said. “She combines hard work and an attention to getting a job done well.”
Outside of her campaign, Biggs participates in a number of extracurricular activities. She is involved with Young Americans for Freedom and the Hillsdale Humane Society. She is also an active member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
“I love doing philanthropy work and volunteering with my sisters,” she said.
Biggs said she enjoys seeing people’s reactions when they hear she is running for school board as an 18 year old.
“I love telling people I’m an 18 year old who’s running for school board,” said Biggs.
At the end of the day, Biggs said that one of her biggest motivations for running is to help her community.
“A lot of kids, especially my age, don’t care about their communities back at home once they’re off to college,” Biggs said. “I love my hometown. I have a lot of ideas for the school, and I really want to make a difference.”