Students are star of the show in TUSD board candidates forum

Students demand answers

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - She stood proudly at the podium, with focus, as she demanded an answer from those who sway her schooling.

"The issues that we're bringing up are important to us and should be answered," Adriana Noriega told Tucson News Now.

The Cholla High School senior was vocal about what, she said, many of her peers want.

"Whether that is students with disabilities or students of different genders or backgrounds, they should be able to have access to a quality education," Noriega said.

She and her peers expressed those wants and needs during a candidates forum Thursday night, Oct. 18, at Mansfeld Magnet Middle School.

The event brought together the five candidates running for two seats on the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board.

The incumbents up for re-election, Adelita Grijalva and Michael Hicks, sat side-by-side on the stage with challengers Leila Counts, Adam Ragan and Doug Robson.

The twist to Thursday's forum was that each question was posed at the podium by a TUSD student.

"A lot of great opinions and questions were asked and shared," said Makayla Clark, a senior at Cholla High School.

The candidates heard from the kids, most of whom are not old enough to elect them. Despite the inability to wield electoral power, the candidates paid close attention.

"They listen to student voices. That's important, as well. So while those students don't formally have the authority to vote, they have an incredible amount of influence," said TUSD Superintendent Dr. Gabriel Trujillo.

A common theme of Thursday night centered around money for capital needs and capital funding, as students raised concerns over the need for better bathrooms, textbooks, computers, technology, and infrastructure.

"The issues are real, the experiences are real, and the voices are real. They're coming directly from these cities, these public schools, and the students that attend them," Trujillo said.

Influential students, like Noriega, with enough potential to put any of these five TUSD Governing Board candidates into power.

"I'm going to definitely bring it back to my household and to my school and encourage my peers to get their parents, their guardians, to vote for the candidates that I find are extremely eligible."

Live from Mansfeld Magnet Middle School with the TUSD Governing Board Candidates Forum for the Kids. Thank you AZ Daily Star! Candidates from left to right are Doug Robson, Adam Ragan, Adelita Grijalva, Leila Counts and Michael Hicks.

Posted by Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) on Thursday, October 18, 2018

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