Oakdale High School senior Paul Perrone recently took his seat on the Board of Trustees for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District when he was sworn in at a meeting earlier this month.
OJUSD seats a new student member on the board each year selected through OHS Leadership. The student serves as a voting member, although not part of personnel matters and not a swing vote, and serves a term that lasts through the school year. Perrone said he wanted to be more involved in leadership and knew a couple of the prior student board representatives and admired what they achieved.
“Ours was one of the first, if not the first, districts in the state to have a student member,” reported OJUSD Trustee Rick W. Jones. “The role of the student member is to provide feedback from the student body, provide reports on student activities, be a conduit between student body and the board, participate in discussion, make site visits to the campuses, vote on various items on the agenda, and conduct the last meeting of the school year.”
Perrone added that he finds politics interesting and wanted to learn more about the local political climate and see if the experience is similar to his experiences with Model United Nations. He noted that he has found there are definite similarities and expresses enthusiasm about his new role.
“I could have the capacity to change something for the better,” he said. “I can have an inside view of how something really works.”
OHS teacher Pete Simoncini, who has taught Perrone in three different Advanced Placement courses, described the OHS senior as “indefatigable.” He added that Perrone is a joy to teach, has integrity that is unquestioned, a vibrant sense of humor, and is a true friend to his fellow students.
“He is an outstanding and hardworking student while also being a multiple-award-winning member of the academic teams Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad, and Model United Nations, (is) a scholar athlete, and a person who is active in numerous other activities that serve our campus and community,” Simoncini said.
Perrone said that as a voting member he feels responsibility for how things affect his peers. He said he wants to represent them but also remain truthful to his beliefs.
“It’s very important to make sure the student body is represented on the board,” he said, adding that he feels he can handle the task in part due to his involvement in leadership at school and by following the examples of his predecessors.
“I want to make sure I’m not a drain on (the trustees’) time or resources, that I’m contributing…I want to make sure I’m an effective member of the board,” Perrone said, adding that he makes sure he reads the agenda packets so he is prepared for the board discussion prior to the meetings.
“It is impossible to have effective leadership without including and engaging the children in the decision matrix,” Jones added. “So many times I believe policy makers do not talk to real people, I think if they did governance would improve.”
Perrone is very involved in school but said that the time commitment to the school board is manageable. He said that by not participating in a fall sport this year it has freed up some time for him and it’s worth the tradeoff.
“I’m very goal oriented,” he said. “I set goals and achieve them. That’s how I get things done.”
Perrone serves as president for Model UN and also for Interact club (sponsored by Rotary) on campus. He is also a competing team member for Academic Decathlon, participates in Science Olympiad, GSA club, plays on the tennis team, and has been on the cross country team as well. He has also been involved in theater through Hutton’s Hamlet and is a member of Orange Blossom 4-H Club where he participates as part of the International Exchange Support Advisory Committee and went to Japan in the summer of 2010 on an exchange.
“The student board members we have had over the years have been absolutely terrific, have attended prestigious universities such as UCLA, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, to name a few. All very bright shinning stars, and honestly they all have contributed in a very large way to our success and achievement,” Jones said. “Each time a new (student) member comes on, I always wonder if the next one will be as good as the last, and…each one in their unique way have been, and I am sure Paul Perrone will be as well.”
Perrone is following in the footsteps of prior student board representatives, as he has a desire to attend Stanford as his first choice for college. Other choices include UCLA or UC Berkeley. He plans to major in Business, Economics, or Political Science and minor in Japanese and/or Computer Science. He said that he, too, wants to be a role model for younger students the way older high-achieving students were role models for him.
“He’s a blue chipper for sure and his potential to one day emerge as a leader in our society is absolutely unlimited,” Simoncini added.