By Tara Thompson
Recently, on March 23rd there was a Student Forum held during lunch at school for our new candidates for the School board. Amy Hirsh class of ‘96, Ariana Martinez class of ‘08, and Ali Mansouri class of ‘86. All 3 of our candidates are Benicia alumni and have great ideas on how to improve our schools.
Martinez is a social worker who graduated from the University of Southern California with a major in both social work and psychology. She loves our community and values us students as part of that community. Hirsh graduated from University of California Los Angeles and also has love for our schools and often volunteers at Matthew Turner as one of her kids currently attends there. Hirsh is also an attorney and taught paralegals at John F Kennedy University. Mansouri was a U.S. Air force officer and a nuclear engineer until he went back to school in Albany, New York to become a medical doctor, he now works locally as a hospitalist at Kaiser Permanente.
Martinez wants to look at the current policies we have first before changing anything. Hirsh said she wants to work with the board to make changes and questioned if teachers think they could handle an active shooter situation to see if there’s anything we can improve in that department. Mansouri said he wanted to increase math to a limit of 3 years instead of two and bring down social studies from 3-2 years, and to “do things that make sense to you.”
When asked about their priorities, Martinez said that student wellness was very important to her and that she wanted to focus on trust and communication. Hirsh said she just wants everyone to be happy and to feel like they belong, to be safe and well prepared. Mansouri was also a huge advocate for mental and physical health, “we should treat you with compassion and care.”
One of the most important questions asked in this forum was what they were going to do about the drug and vaping problem at our school. Martinez suggested partnering up with Solano County education and looking at research on what we can do to fix it. Hirsh had a similar idea in doing the research on what other schools are doing and seeing what is effective and what isn’t. Mansouri claimed people are afraid of going to the bathrooms now because of the usage of vapes and drugs, his idea for a solution is to take them out of school and enroll them in a drug program until they can come back to school, his exact words were “you vape, you’re out.”
If you missed out on the student forum you can watch the recording of it on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYRSTKzxxV8, for more information on who to vote for this year’s new school board candidate.