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Neal Gets Comfortable As Student Board Rep
An Early Autumn
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Oakdale High School senior Autumn Neal at the conclusion of her first OJUSD board meeting officially serving as the 2016-17 OJUSD Student Board member. The 17-year-old shared her excitement for the coming year, as well as the opportunity to serve the district. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

The week of Aug. 8, 2016 will likely be remembered as one of ‘firsts’ for Oakdale High School senior Autumn Neal.

Aside from being her first week as a senior, her first time in Leadership class and a host of others, it’s a week which found the student with new responsibilities.

The OHS senior began the week at the first 2016-17 Oakdale Joint Unified School Board meeting, where she was officially sworn in and formally seated as this year’s OJUSD student board member.

“So far I really like it,” the new board member said, the week prior to her first ‘official’ meeting. “I’ve met with each of the principals at the different schools. I asked them what they’d like to see from me in the coming year.”

She also did some homework before the school board meeting of Monday night, Aug. 8.

“I’ve reviewed the packet,” she said of the pages of reports entrusted to the board members prior to each monthly meeting. “I got a little confused by the financial stuff, but Mr. Malone (District Superintendent Marc Malone) explained it to me which was helpful. I like the responsibility.”

Humble in nature, Autumn is not the stereotypical student board member, at first glance. Rattling off a résumé of extracurricular activities does not come easy for the student. When posed with the question of activities she cited a handful including: LINK Crew, S-Club, CSF, AAUW and Dead Poets Society (which she co-founded her sophomore year). Through further conversation she noted her involvement with the Academic Decathlon Team since sophomore year, as well as the OHS swim team and Oakdale Aquatics Swim Team.

“I’d say I’m pretty friendly and inquisitive,” Autumn said of her personality. “I’ve been described as bubbly, so I’ll put that in there too.”

While ‘bubbly’ is an accurate description of the newly seated board member, so too would be tenacious or outgoing, as demonstrated in the founding of the Dead Poets Society Club.

“It was just around when Robin Williams had died,” she said of the club. “All my friends were going on about what a great movie that was. During a sleepover that summer before sophomore year, we decided to make a club appreciating art in its many forms.”

Autumn has an appreciation for visual arts via painting and drawing, as well as creative writing. She’s also been swimming with Oakdale teams for the past seven years.

“I love the fact that it’s an individual sport,” she said of swimming, “and there’s no one else to blame if I do bad. And yet, you still have that team for support.”

The OHS senior plans to major in Communications, but first she must decide on which colleges she will pursue attending. Currently she is interested in UC Berkeley and a number of CSU campuses.

“I’ve heard it has a really good English program,” she said of Berkeley.

Currently Autumn’s sights are set on her newly appointed position and leaving her mark as the 2016-17 Student Representative.

“I’ve heard that the position is what you make it,” she said, “so, I’m going to do my best to make it that. I’m really excited for this position.”