Student representative strives to bridge communication gaps

Sep 17, 2023

Wareham High School Senior Gisella Priestley, 17, is serving as the student representative on the School Committee for Academic Year 2023-24.

Being the student representative means Priestley was elected by her peers to serve as a voice for the student body while attending School Committee meetings.

Priestley said this role will involve a lot of communication between herself and various student groups and she already has a number of goals she hopes to make progress in this academic year.

One of those goals is to start a dialogue with the School Committee about low student participation in groups and clubs.

“They have amazing opportunities at our school and in our school district, but we all seem to talk about how they're not as successful as they need to be,” Priestley said.

She added that throughout the country, there is this misconception that extracurriculars are not as important for students as classes are.

Priestley said she and many students she has spoken to view these activities as “critical” to their learning experience.

“I feel like clubs have such an important part in growing, not just to boost a college application, but to figure out who you are and to do so many important things,” she said.

Therefore, she said it is vital that students are encouraged to seek these opportunities and it is important they have assistance in getting there.

Priestley said she wants to help “bridge the gap” in communication between the School Committee and Wareham Public Schools.

Additionally, Priestley said a personal goal of hers is to “not take this opportunity for granted” and to not be “complacent.”

Along with her role on the School Committee, Priestley also participates in the school’s theater program where she serves as stage manager. 

She said she is passionate about social justice and plans to study international relations in college.

This past summer, Priestley was able to combine her love for leadership and social justice at the Telluride Association Summer Seminar at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

In the classroom, she was able to work with students from all over the world and professors who were passionate about their subjects.

Priestley said she learned a lot from the varying perspectives available to her and will incorporate a lot of what she learned in the work she does, including as student representative.

One way she plans to do this is by looking more into the historical implications of social justice issues.

To students who may be considering taking on a leadership position, Priestley said, “Stay true to what you feel and constantly try to learn as much as you can.”

She added, “Don’t be afraid.”

She said it is OK to have differing opinions, adding surrounding oneself with those who may not see eye to eye on all topics could be beneficial.

Priestley said some of the biggest role models in her life are her fellow students.

Of course, family, teachers and various celebrities serve as influential models in her life. However, she said, “There's so many students that are constantly inspiring me and leave me in awe of all of the amazing changes that they're making in school.”