The first student school board representative in the history of Winona Area Public Schools will attend his final meeting tonight. (The online meeting can be streamed here.)
Cooper Hancock, a senior, joined the board in February and immediately made a positive impact by offering a student perspective on the school calendar, distance learning, graduation and more.
“I liked being able to experience sitting on board meetings and seeing how decisions are made,” Hancock said. “I also appreciated the ability to provide a student voice.
“It surprised me how some of the discussion went, whether they were longer than I expected, or went places I never thought of. It was interesting to witness the board members' points of view and what they had to say.”
Hancock wasn’t afraid to use that student voice when necessary or to ask questions when the board was discussing something he didn’t understand.
As the student representative, Hancock didn’t have voting rights. But his opinions and insight gave the board a perspective it normally wouldn’t be able to consider.
“As our first student school board representative, he has done a stellar job of being prepared for meetings, asking good questions ahead of time and at the board table,” school board chair Nancy Denzer said. “I am very pleased that Cooper applied for the student school board seat and had an experience that will benefit him in the future.”
The idea for a student representative came from board member Michael Hanratty, who looked at the position as a way to increase engagement with the student body. He has served as Hancock’s mentor.
“Our school district was very fortunate to have Cooper sitting at the board table as our student representative,” Hanratty said. “He took his role as the student voice seriously and spoke eloquently on the needs of our students. He was well prepared for board meetings, listened to opposing viewpoints and was not afraid to add his viewpoint. He was a valuable member of our school board team and I wish him luck in his future.”
Hancock, who plans to study business at the University of Minnesota next fall, will give way to Issara Schmidt, a junior who will take over as the student board representative for the 2020-21 school year.