Originally Published: August 18, 2018 4:46 p.m.
Sydney Seeley is no stranger to Prescott Unified School District Governing Board meetings.
She’s been attending them since she was a first-grader — of course, most of the years she tuned out the business and did her homework, read a book or played quietly in the back of the room.
Sydney’s mother, Tina, a one-time Prescott teacher and principal who now owns her own real estate company, is in her third, four-year term, first elected in November 2008. In 2014, Tina served as board president during a tumultuous year that resulted in the closing of two schools and reorganizing the district.
The one-time tagalong is now a Prescott High School senior recently selected to serve this year as the Student Council’s Governing Board representative, a non-voting, advisory post intended to offer the board a student presence and voice. She replaces last year’s representative Alexa Rosdahl.
For at least a decade, district administrators have interviewed seniors to serve as a representative to the school board, a role board members and administrators say keeps a link between the students and the district policy makers.
“My main goal is to make sure I represent my school and keep (students) interests at heart and make sure their voice is heard,” said the 17-year-old who is active in various aspects of high school life from scholastic pursuits to athletics and the JROTC program. “I think it’s really important the board is kept informed about what we as students want changed and also keep the school informed about what the board does.”
Sydney is well-equipped to be a student spokesman as she has long been a student leader; she was the JROTC commander during the 2018 spring semester and this fall is teaching leadership skills to freshman members. She was elected to Student Council three years in a row, serving as an officer for the two years prior to her selection as board representative. She is the treasurer for the National Honor Society and will be captain of this year’s varsity soccer team.
“She’s a natural born leader,” her mother said, noting Sydney and her older sister, Piper, 21, who is in the ROTC at the University of Arizona, are quite familiar with the inner workings of the school system.
All of her school life Sydney has been an involved student, and she believes this position will prove a learning experience as she continues to learn how to communicate with the powers that be to get things done, Tina Seeley said. In her role with the Student Council, Sydney has already been working with the administration as a student advocate to improve the acoustics in the gymnasium, known to Badgers as the “Dome,” she said.
Retired Lt. Col. Bill DeKemper, who heads up the JRTOC program, agrees with Sydney’s mother on her leadership abilities.
Not only is she comfortable taking on such roles, DeKemper said her personable approach and demeanor enables her to be an effective leader because she commands the respect of others.
“She’s a hard worker like most of our cadet leaders,” DeKemper said. She’s mission-oriented, but she goes about getting things done without beating people up to get it done. That makes her an effective leader because people want to work with her.
“I’m not surprised she was chosen to be the Student Council advisor to the board. She works well with peers, and adults, too.”
As a student leader, Sydney said she sees herself as open-minded person, eager to hear from as many people as possible before reaching a decision. And she said she is a doer. She said she is not one to be on the sidelines.
“I have to be involved,” said Sydney, who is now applying to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point where she wants to study bio-medical engineering.
DeKemper sees Sydney as a student who can stand as an example to her peers. He has no doubt she will be a success at any endeavor she pursues.
“She certainly has the skills, from what I’ve seen, and the drive,” DeKemper said.
In this new mother-daughter experience, Tina Seeley said she will welcome Sydney as she has her predecessors to a role she believes helps keep the elected members “focused on why we’re there and who we’re there for.”
“She’s my kid. She’s awesome,” Seeley concluded.