Pearl City Senior Joins State BOE
By PAIGE TAKEYA
Pearl City High School senior Danson Honda is one voice representing 183,000 in his new role as student representative on the state Board of Education.
“The purpose of the Board of Education, of course, is to set education policy. Those policies, clearly, have a direct impact on the students,” said Don Horner, chairman of the state BOE. “It certainly makes good sense to have a student participate in that process, to give us his perspective.”
Honda keeps himself busy at Pearl City, where he leads the marching band as drum major and runs on the cross-country team. He also served on the Hawaii State Student Council. Getting to know so many different groups of students through all these activities encouraged him to apply for the BOE position.
“Simply knowing where students stand on issues isn’t satisfactory for me; I want an opportunity to make a change,” he said.
Honda was selected by a committee that included Horner and students from across the state, as well as previous BOE student representative Jannah Dela Cruz.
Danson was sworn in July 1 for the 2014-2015 school year, and he will be expected to attend BOE meetings, serve as a liaison with HSSC and join in policy discussion, though he will not be able to vote directly on issues.
“His input is taken very seriously. His influence is very important to the process,” Horner said, noting that in his experience, the BOE has never made a decision that went against the opinion of the student member.
Horner has a “laundry list” of items BOE wants to tackle this year that will require Honda’s perspective, including improving communication between HSSC and BOE, as well as facilitating student involvement in teacher evaluations and infrastructure upgrades.
“I look forward to the student rep bringing his constituency to the table, to have input on policy before policy is decided upon and implemented,” Horner said.
Honda agrees that progress could be made to “shorten the communication gap”
between the different bodies that govern education in Hawaii: students, the state Department of Education, BOE, state Legislature and governor. But his main priority is a little more abstract, though no less important.
“A school will fail if the students themselves aren’t motivated,” he said. “Even the best lessons, books and materials in the world won’t get students excited about learning and willing to work hard if they’re not motivated.”
He’s excited to tackle that issue, along with many others, in his new role.
“Truth be told, no words can describe how honored I felt when I found out that I was entrusted with the BOE student rep position.”