Oakdale High School senior Daniel Dunning has officially assumed his position as a member of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District’s governing body – the Board of Trustees.
For the past several years, an OHS student has been appointed to serve on the school board, serving a single term that is the length of the school year. Although the student is not privy to and may not vote on personnel issues, and may not be the “swing” vote, the student board representative does vote on all other matters that come before the board. District officials believe that OJUSD is one of the very few, if not the only, school districts in the state to have a sitting, voting student member of the board.
Dunning said part of the reason he wanted to become the student member on the school board is because he likes seeing government procedures and the workings of local government. He said is looking forward to having a role in the planning and that it’s good to learn how public meetings are run.
“I think it’s really interesting to see what conditions are like, especially considering the (financial) condition of the state,” Dunning said.
“It’ll also give me an appreciation for the education I’m getting at the public school,” he said.
Dunning went through an interview process with a panel comprised of the Leadership advisor, a school administrator, and a student leader prior to being selected to serve on the board.
He was sworn in as a member of the school board on Aug. 9 at the regular meeting where his first duties included handing out awards and telling the board and the audience a little about himself.
“I’m really enjoying it,” he said of his new role. “I haven’t really been involved in all that many leadership things prior to this year.”
However, Dunning has been quite actively involved in school otherwise.
OHS Principal Mike Moore reported that Dunning is a straight-A honor student and is currently ranked second in his class. He’s been part of the Academic Decathlon team and was the high scoring team member at last year’s state competition, he has also been part of the Science Olympiad team for the last two years. Dunning is embarking on his fourth year playing on the OHS tennis team and was the number one seed his sophomore and junior years, Moore added. During the summer he has been involved in community theater at Hutton’s Hamlet.
“Great kid, great student, great human being,” Moore said. “We would clone him if we could.”
Dunning is also involved in Link Crew, GSA, and Interact clubs at OHS and is also a math tutor who helps the younger students he tutors with organization, time management, and study skills. He knows that these skills come in handy and he’ll be applying them himself this year as he adds serving on the school board to his résumé.
“I know the time commitment… It’s shown me the importance of time management,” Dunning said, adding that he’s working through it and that it’s important to balance his time well.
“He is a great student, definitely a self-starter who looks for ways to help out and looking for new and better ways to do things in Leadership, and has already shown himself to be one of the ones who stays until the end (and) until the job is done,” said OHS teacher and Activities Director Ed Rapinchuk.
He also said that Dunning “works extremely well with others” and that all these things combined make for “wonderful” attributes as a board representative.
Dunning expects that serving on the school board will also make an impact on his public speaking presence. He said that since he’ll have to give reports to the board monthly, he hopes it will help him overcome his nervousness about speaking in front of groups.
He also believes his involvement on the board and interacting with its members will encourage him to become more active in the community.
His college plans are fairly open at this point, though he has plans to attend a University of California school. He said he’s leaning toward majoring in engineering, economics, or business.
Dunning was born in the Bay Area and moved to Oakdale with his parents Philip and Barbara Dunning prior to starting Kindergarten at Magnolia Elementary School.