17-year-old joins Jersey City school board as 'student voice'
A 17-year-old Liberty High School student has joined the Jersey City school board as the board's first "voice for the students."
Alexsas Misoka, who will be a senior in September, was sworn in by Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas and board member Mussab Ali at the board's June 14 meeting. Ali championed the idea of a student representative when he campaigned for his current term last year.
Misoka will be a non-voting member. She was chosen after a process that saw each of the city's public high schools nominate candidates who gave speeches to the citywide student council, which then selected a winner.
"I was honestly surprised because I went up against students from McNair and Infinity," Misoka said. "Their speeches were astonishing."
Ali, a 21-year-old student at Rutgers Newark, joined the school board in January for a one-year term. A McNair graduate, Ali said he does not want the board's only student voice to be dependent on a young adult winning the often-divisive (and expensive) school board elections.
"I realize how difficult it is for young people to get elected," said Ali, who won in November by just 68 votes.
Ali stressed that he was speaking for himself and not the school board.
Student board members are not new in New Jersey. Newark's school board also has one.
Misoka's term runs until the end of 2018. Each year the student government will select a new student to send to the board for a one-year term.
She said she's not sure yet what kind of initiatives she will push as the board's student representative, but she's still buzzing over being selected.
"It was crazy," she told The Jersey Journal. "As I was being sworn in, in my head I was thinking, wow I'm really doing this ... It was all unbelievable."