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Two appointed as student school board members

  • Senior Isaiah Tilton is sworn in as a student board member by school board treasurer/secretary Terri O’Brien at Monday’s meeting. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • Junior Cael Ruzicka was recently appointed as a student board member for the 2019-20 school year. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob,

Charles City High School senior Isaiah Tilton is happy to have junior Cael Ruzicka join him on the school board.

“I can only be in one place at one time,” Tilton said. “Now, with two, we can collaborate on the same project or two different projects and intertwine them to present to the board.”

The Charles City Community School District Board of Education appointed Tilton and Ruzicka as the student board members for the 2019-20 school year at Monday’s board meeting.

Student board members serve through May, and are eligible to participate in discussion at all regular board meetings held in open session. The student board member is a non-voting position, and the student representatives are responsible for communicating board decisions and information to the student body.

“I have a little bit of experience speaking in front of people, and I would love nothing more than to have my voice heard,” Ruzicka said. “Just to be there is a privilege.”

In years past, there has been just one student board member appointed each school year. Twelve students showed interest in serving this year — more than usual. Board President Robin Macomber and Superintendent Mike Fisher put the students through a screening process.

“We were real excited to find people who show great enthusiasm for this work,” Fisher said.

Fisher said interested students wrote a five-paragraph essay about what they thought about the school district’s vision and mission, and how they wanted to advance it. Macomber and Fisher reviewed those essays, and Fisher did some reference checks with administration.

“I’m pleased to announce we’re actually going to recommend two — it’s a positive problem,” Fisher said. “This will give us mobility in the future.”

Fisher said the district is considering appointing a junior every year to serve a two-year term. Both Ruzicka and Tilton think that would be good for the students and the district.

“I actually do think it’s a good idea,” Tilton said. “Last year when I did this by myself, it wasn’t as easy to collaborate with other students to work on projects.”

“He has the experience, he can kind of pass it on to me,” Ruzicka said about Tilton. “I’ll get to understand how it works, and then by next year, I’ll be more comfortable and will be able to say more. I’ll be the more experienced person, and it will just kind of be like a chain.”

Ruzicka has a busy schedule, and the appointment just made it a little busier. He is heavily involved with FFA and is on the FFA leadership team. In fact, he was at an FFA livestock judging competition when Fisher tried to call him with the news that he’d been appointed.

“I had to call the FFA team,” Fisher said.

When Fisher asked to speak to Ruzicka, he was told he couldn’t, because it would have disqualified him from the competition. Students are not allowed to speak while the animals are being judged. Ruzicka found out about the appointment later, while having lunch at Pizza Ranch.

“When I finally got the news, it was pretty cool,” Ruzicka said. “Letting them know my perspective, from a student point of view, is a very important thing that I’m honored to be able to do.”

Besides FFA, Ruzicka is involved in 4H, drama, speech and he is on the student council. He serves as junior class president, is in the Boy Scouts, and takes private piano lessons. He is also in choir and will be auditioning for all-state this fall with the jazz choir.

With all that going on, Ruzicka said he is still committed to serving on the school board.

“I’m more than willing to make it work,” he said. “Mr. Fisher is going to get me a schedule.”

Ruzicka is also heavily involved in high school sports — baseball, basketball and trapshooting — and he would likely be on the football team right now had he not suffered a severe knee injury while playing basketball last spring.

The freak injury to his knee as he pulled down a rebound tore his anterior cruciate ligament, his medial collateral ligament, his lateral meniscus, his medial meniscus and his medial patellofemoral ligament — which attaches the kneecap to the inner part of the knee — among other injuries.

He was on crutches through much of the spring and summer, had surgery in May, and has been doing physical therapy. He said rehabilitating the leg has not been easy.

“It’s been a process — a really long process — and I’m only about halfway done,” Ruzicka said.

He has been cleared to start jogging, and he is hoping to be strong enough to play basketball by about mid-season.

“That’s my personal goal,” said Ruzicka, who added that he’s certain he’ll be ready to play baseball in the spring.

Ruzicka and Tilton have gotten to know each other this school year through a class they’re both in. Tilton said the first bit of advice he’d like to give Ruzicka is to make sure he shows up ready to learn.

“Be there as much as you can — you learn a lot from these meetings,” Tilton said. “Be involved.”

Now that he has an idea of what it’s supposed to be like, Tilton hopes he’ll be able to accomplish more on the school board.

“I’d like to complete a few more projects than I did last year, and be more involved in the community,” Tilton said.

Tilton has also served on the school renovation committee and has been involved in track, cross country and school government. He has long-term thoughts of going into engineering or architecture.

Ruzicka is planning to attend Iowa State and is looking into a career in farming and agriculture. He is also considering engineering — such as becoming an agriculture engineer or a mechanical engineer.

“It’s all about just getting yourself out there. Put yourself in positions that you enjoy, where you have fun,” Ruzicka said. “Find something that makes you happy, that you truly enjoy doing, and then go further in that activity.”