Photo: Credit: Arlene Pomerantz
By Colleen O’Brien
Jamie Serruto, who turns 18 in October, presently is a 17-year-old senior at Millburn High School, a life-long resident of the Millburn community, a Class President for four years running, and will in all probability, take a seat at the table of the Millburn BOE in January. The BOE election is Tuesday, Nov. 5th, at polling places across Millburn Township.
The term that Serruto aspires to is one-year, running from January 2020 to December 2020. Serruto’s aspirations for the position include being able to show first-hand what it’s like to go through the school system from K-12. “I have lived here in Short Hills my entire life where the community has provided me with an outstanding education, and (now) getting involved (in this election) has allowed my passion for service to blossom.”
Serruto added that he believes that “we are a stronger community when we are working for the betterment of everyone.”
Serruto believes that future high school seniors may want to follow in his footsteps “if they feel passionate and prepared.” He says that “this role is not for everyone.” But he believes that “A student’s perspective can be a very valuable contribution to the Board of Education.”
Some experts would agree that students who have a say in their own governance are apt to become better citizens and workers, develop public speaking abilities as well as grow empathy, and respectfully question the status quo.
For instance, Serruto was instrumental last year in extending the lunch break for the high school’s 1,500 students to 58 minutes. Serruto maintains that the extra time gave students more options, including ‘me’ time, one-on-one with teachers, and club gatherings. He also believes that after-school activities were freed up.
How do we make sure the needs of school children are being met? One way is through the District’s budget. The District oversees approximately 5,000 students with an annual budget in excess of $93 million. Admittedly the budget is multi-faceted and breaks down into many categories. Serruto would like to see more financial transparency.
He would also like to see the concept of Arts & Sciences reintroduced, as well as inclusion of all students, regardless of ability, in common classes.
So far, the Millburn Public School System was ranked Number 1 in the state by Niche.com. According to Millburn High’s stats 99 percent of graduating seniors attend four-year colleges.
But there’s always room for improvement. One of the recent focuses in the Millburn Township is addressing — for high schoolers, what is the balance between intense study focus and recreational pursuits?
The District is implementing ideas, according to Superintendent Dr. Christine Burton. They include a Zen room, Yoga, a “Peace Room,” therapy dogs once-a-month, and exam time snacks.
Says Linda Randazo, school psychologist at MHS, “What if you fall short of the mark you set for yourself? We are trying to make students understand that failure is a step to success.”
After graduation Serruto intends “to be present in Millburn Township as much as humanly possible, and have a near perfect Board attendance.” For his college plans, he’s looking along the East Coast from DC to Northern NJ. Serruto is hoping to study Political Science and Public Administration. And after? “Hopefully find myself working in local government.”
For more information, contact Jamie Serruto by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.