Students Take The Lead In The Form Of Inaugural Town Hall Meeting

Paige+Bostic+stands%2C+posted+at+her+camera+filming+a+candidate+on+the+right+side+of+the+stage+

Sammy Knickmeyer

Paige Bostic stands, posted at her camera filming a candidate on the right side of the stage

Sammy Knickmeyer, Reporter

On March 30, the students of the Wentzville School District hosted the first-ever Town Hall Meeting for the Board of Education candidates. This was event was organized to give the candidates a chance to speak directly to the community; but also gave the students of the district a chance to ask questions and use their voice.

There were only two spots to fill on the board, with eight candidates vying for each leading up to Election Day on April 6. Seven of the eight came to the event, including: Brad Buchanan, Kori Sloan, Jason Goodson, Cheri Purpura Thurman, Shannon Stolle, Donald Looney, and Lashun Coleman-Hale. This event was originally supposed to have a live audience, but due to COVID-19, it was streamed on the Liberty lhsstreaming YouTube channel. 

This idea was supposed to come to fruition on a smaller scale last year before the pandemic happened,” senior Lizzie Kayser said, who was one of the event moderators. “It was supposed to be a much larger group of students working with one of the principals to plan, and I don’t believe it was going to be broadcast(ed). We had only a few meetings before we were quarantined, so I’m not really sure what it would have looked like.” 

Ianne Salvosa, a senior, was a part of the original plan before COVID-19.

“Last year, Dr. Kiesel assembled the leaders of each club to put on the Town Hall. We got pretty far in planning, but didn’t get to actually execute the event due to COVID-19. This year, Mr. Hall approached Rhett [Cunningham] and I one morning about the event (after the district had reached out to him about it),” Salvosa said.

The event took place on March 30, each crew member came early arriving at 4-5 p.m. As each candidate arrived, they were immediately required to have their temperature checked. Then, Sean Bruce and Lizzie Kayser introduced themselves and took the candidates back to the dressing rooms. While in the dressing room, Bruce and Kayser mic’d up each candidate and spoke with them individually. By 6 p.m., every candidate was ready on the stage, and the event began. 

After the moderators, briefly introduced themselves and the event, each candidate had the chance to speak on what they want to do for the district and how they felt about various topics in the school district.

The first round of questions began seven minutes into the broadcast, and each candidate was given 90 seconds to answer a question concerning COVID-19 and what they wanted to do differently. Questions followed as each candidate was given a chance to speak and explain how they feel about certain issues including COVID-19, diversity, and how they want to overcome challenges students and staff face.

When asked what she would have done differently regarding COVID-19, former educator Thurman said, “As I see COVID, I see it as a dark cloud that descended on our world as we knew it.” 

Round two began with a specific question to each candidate, and they were each given 60 seconds to answer. These questions included topics such as unfair policies, technology, growth, mental health, budget cuts, future population growth, student needs and transparency. This round of questions was specific to each candidate, based on what they focused on in their campaigns.

After round two, a 10-minute break was put into session. This was the time given for students, staff, teachers, and members of the Wentzville community to submit questions they have for the candidates through a form linked to the broadcast. These questions were asked place in the third and final round, and each candidate had 2 minutes to reply. These questions included staff and student support, proudest moments on the board, class sizes, cutting costs, promotion of acceptance, donation of funds, and rules for general safety of students. 

To finish off the event, each candidate was given 30 seconds for a closing statement. Many showed credibility of their campaign and expressed gratitude towards the Liberty students for giving them the opportunity to speak on their campaigns.

“To all candidates, we wish you the best of luck in the upcoming election,” Kayser said closing the event. “Thank you for joining us, and goodnight.”