Cheyenne Candlin, a senior at Saugerties High, is the Saugerties school board’s student representative for the 2018-19 school year. She says that students are becoming increasingly interested in how the world around them works. She lauds the involvement.
“Especially now, more young people are registering to vote, and more teenagers are just getting more active in politics in general,” Candlin said. “That’s a good thing. In the past you wouldn’t have seen this surge of young voters and people interested in politics in general, and in how their school or their country is going to be run. I love that.”
Candlin is busy. Very busy. She’s a member of the student council, treasurer of the SHS Class of 2019, president of the SHS computer video production program, and vice president of the science club. She’s a member of Key Club, drama club and the SHS choir. She was in the school play. She takes private piano lessons and works every day on her family’s horse farm.
She was also chosen over the summer to represent Saugerties at the New York Empire Girls State, a government and leadership program sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. “I was already very interested in government before Girls State, but attending the program definitely solidified my desire to pursue a future degree in political science,” said Candlin. “I’ve been involved in student government since tenth grade.”
A student council adviser told Candlin that serving as student representative to the school board would look good on her college applications. She said she’d have been intrigued anyway.
“I’m just really interested in being more involved, in seeing how school officials are relating to teenagers, because it sometimes feels that they’re completely opposite in the way that they think and the way they do things,” Candlin, who’s taking an AP Government and Politics class, said. “Sometimes school board officials might implement new procedures that might seem ridiculous if you’re a student.”
Candlin grew up in Saugerties, attending Riccardi Elementary School through the fourth grade before transferring to the Good Shepherd Christian School in Kingston. Candlin has been at Saugerties High since the ninth grade. She’s the eldest of three kids. Candlin’s sister Marcella is a sophomore at Saugerties High, while her brother John is in the sixth grade at Riccardi.
Candlin said her interest in politics started when she was young. “From a young age I guess I would just watch the news, or be interested in what adults were talking about, or politics in general,” she said. “And then I realized that schools had student governments where they could implement school procedures.”
Candlin thinks of her role as student advisor as an intermediary between the school board and the student body. “I write a report based on student activities within Saugerties High School and within the district and present it to the school board,” Candlin explained. “But they asked me if I could ask students questions so the board could answer them. I’m working with the student council to figure out a way for high school students and maybe even elementary school students to submit questions I could ask the board.”
She takes her responsibility representing the views of Saugerties students of all ages very seriously. “I get that a bunch of 50-year old people can’t understand the mind of an elementary or high school student,” the outspoken Candlin said. “Maybe they’ll ask my opinion on a topic, and I can give input on that.”
At her first board meeting held earlier this month, Candlin’s classmates cheered her on during her report.
All SHS seniors have to take at least a half-year government course, requiring them to attend a local government meeting, which could be at the county or municipal level, or within a school district. As an AP student, Candlin would have been required to attend as many as four meetings, a task she’ll fulfill as the student representative.
“It’s cool,” she said. “I get my own nametag and microphone.”
Candlin plans to focus on political science in college, though she hasn’t decided where she’d like to attend yet. After college, she said she’d like to move on to law school.