No one can ever call James Rosenquist a quitter. The Langley High School junior has had his eye on the position of student representative to the Fairfax County School Board for three years, and for Rosenquist, the third time really was the charm.
“As a freshman I ran for the position, only because I always like to try new stuff and I thought it would be fun,” said Rosenquist, who was not elected that year, but was a member of the Langley Student Advisory Council.
Each public high school in Fairfax County has its own Student Advisory Council (SAC) with four elected student members. Once a month, all of the councils meet collectively to discuss countywide school issues and brainstorm solutions. In January, students are invited to run for the position of student representative to the Fairfax County School Board, and after each student completes the application process, the countywide Student Advisory Council elects one student for the position.
During his sophomore year, Rosenquist was once again elected to the Langley Student Advisory Council, but was unsuccessful in his bid for student representative to the Fairfax County School Board.
“But it was OK because I got to watch the process and see how it worked, and I really, really enjoyed it,” said Rosenquist. “I thought it was so interesting that the School Board would really be interested in the students’ views.”
Rosenquist applied for the third time as a junior in January 2007. The process requires student candidates to attend various question-and-answer sessions, make several speeches and attend certain meetings.
“It was a long process,” said Rosenquist. “First they narrowed it down to six, then three and then one.”
FORTUNATELY, three years of hard work and serving on the Langley Student Advisory Council finally paid off. Rosenquist was elected by the countywide Student Advisory Council to serve a one-year term as student representative to the Fairfax County School Board. His term will begin on July 1, 2007, and he will replace Centreville High School senior Jessica Miller. He is the 37th student representative to the School Board.
Rosenquist will participate in School Board meetings as a non-voting member. He says he is looking forward to commencing work in his new role and has already begun to think about personal goals for his term.
“I want to have goals that I really want to fight for, and it’s definitely been on my mind, so I’ve been researching different topics,” he said. “One thing I’ve been thinking about is school equality and how we can make sure all of our schools are equal, but I’m still coming up with how we can do that.”
In his years as a Student Advisory Council member at Langley, Rosenquist got a good feeling for what issues matter most to his fellow students. He said that the early starting hour of high school is perhaps the complaint he hears most often. Overcrowding in schools and the subsequent trailer classrooms and boundary changes that ensue, are also major concerns that come up again and again. As someone who lives five minutes from Herndon High School but attends Langley High School, Rosenquist is quite familiar with the impact of boundary changes. However, he also knows that the answers to such problems do not come easily.
“There’s several issues that students complain about that there’s no practical solutions for, and that’s one of the hardest things at our SAC meetings,” said Rosenquist. “Rather than complain about it, we try to come up with solutions, but they’re very complex issues.”
ROSENQUIST PLANS to apply to Virginia Tech next year and says it is his top choice for college right now. Ultimately, he hopes to become a high school principal.
“I love being in a leadership position and I love education,” he said.
When he is not mulling over major school issues, Rosenquist sings in the Langley High School choir and the Langley High School Madrigals. In addition, he is vice president of the Langley Improv Team, a member of the National Slavic Honor’s Society, and he recently started “Voicemale,” a men’s choir at Langley.
“I think the best thing about Langley High School is the eagerness to serve,” said Rosenquist. “Whenever there is some sort of fund-raiser, we’re very quick to make sure that needs are met, like with Virginia Tech and Katrina and other issues like that, our school gets on our feet pretty quickly.”