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La Jolla High student a districtwide leader

Senior also serves as ASB president

Vincent Gumina, a La Jolla High School senior and Associated Student Body president, is also president of the districtwide ASB Council, which represents all of the district’s high schools. He recently spoke with classmate Erika Ostroff, a La Jolla Light intern.

Question:

As president of La Jolla High School, you assume the highest position a student can possibly have. Do you have any personal obligations or responsibilities?

Answer:

While staying true to the students at my school, I often neglect to find time for many activities like playing guitar, getting a job, etc., but I will have plenty of time come summer. For me, seeing our school spirit increase and helping people break out of their shell is more rewarding than most else. That is my job.

Q:

How did you become a student representative on the school board? How does that differ from being the president of La Jolla High?

A:

I was elected as student council president of San Diego Unified by the presidents of schools around San Diego. I felt that I could both bring and learn a lot from the position, so I am happy to attend those meetings. Regardless of how boring they get, I still understand their importance because they determine what rules will affect us students, and how the money to provide for these students is being spent. It is very different in going from a Friday dance off to a formal meeting. ... There is much diversity in my position, which is really exciting for me.

Q:

The issue of budget cuts is a hot topic at public schools. Are there any apparent effects that the budget cuts have had on La Jolla High?

A:

The thing I worry most about is the cutting of teachers. A few years ago, many of the best teachers at our school received pink slips, merely due to the fact that they were new to the school system. Our district, and many others, needs to improve dramatically the teacher selection process and treatment. The seniority rule is a fault in the system. Fortunately, La Jolla has a strong foundation of amazing parents and teachers that have managed to support the school during its toughest times. Many schools don’t have that.

Q:

If so, how do you plan to deal with the cuts?

A:

I am currently raising awareness, so more students understand what is occurring. The more people care, the more attention education will receive from the state and country. Our ASB council has been looking at many different places to save money and has found much wasteful/unnecessary spending in our school district.

Q:

What is it like to meet with the different student body presidents from San Diego Unified School District’s 18 high schools?

A:

It is honestly one of the best opportunities I have ever had. We are a very diverse group of kids, but all care about the balance of fun and education. All of the council presidents are accomplished and sure to be going big places in the future.

Q:

When do you meet, and what are the major topics that are discussed?

A:

We meet once a month usually, but sometimes get together on the weekends or at special meetings before a student congress. We usually do a roundtable, to let everyone discuss what they are concerned about ... whether it be an unfair rule or a new project. It really depends on what experiences we go through during the month, combined with outside current events.

Q:

Are there any new ideas/projects that you have come up with together?

A:

Yes. Over the summer, some of the ASB presidents met on the food committee to help choose items for the school lunch menu, which is much more advanced than last year. We have been discussing with the public our request of counselor mediation during military recruitment talks and are building a Web site for student education that will be up in the near future.

Q:

What is it like meeting with fellow teenagers while trying to resolve an issue of such great importance?

A:

Well, all of these students are very driven to get things done, which is why they are in the position in the first place. Of course, we have fun at the same time but still understand what we need to get done and do it.

Q:

If you could give fellow students advice on how to help alleviate the situation, what would you say?

A:

I would say to do one thing — and that is CARE. Next year’s district budget will not directly affect any of the council presidents, as we are all graduating seniors in 2010. That is not why we are tackling the issues. We are fighting for education because we want all to have the same, even more opportunities than we had growing up. If enough people care, Sacramento will care.