Letter: Thank you to Barrington Public Schools

Posted 6/3/20

To the editor:

Dear Town of Barrington, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as the student representative to the school committee for the year 2019-2020.

I never envisioned myself …

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Letter: Thank you to Barrington Public Schools


To the editor:

Dear Town of Barrington, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as the student representative to the school committee for the year 2019-2020.

I never envisioned myself advocating for school policy and student advocacy. These topics always seemed to be the responsibilities of faceless administrators, far beyond the reaches of a student such as myself. Occasionally in the hallways of Barrington High School, I would hear snippets of school committee business, or discussion of some miscellaneous policy that I would dismiss. Never in my wildest dreams did I envision myself shuffling through those very policies at the school committee table, presenting my findings to the most passionate, most driven community stakeholders and administration that I am so incredibly fortunate to have met.

This year has completely altered my perspective on education. A school is no longer an exclusively academic institution, but one where students are mentally, physically, academically, socially, and culturally nourished. Serving on multiple committees throughout the state, I began to see connections that tied all my years of experiential learning together. My passion for representing student voices throughout the years landed me the position of social committee chair of student government, secretary of student government, and BHS representative to the Rhode Island Department of Education. I was particularly fascinated by how ingenious the design of R.I.D.E. was. Taking the student leaders of each high school throughout Rhode Island and having them consult their respective schools and update R.I.D.E., allowed R.I.D.E. to be involved at the forefront within each high school across RI.

My love for inclusion planted an idea in my head that if I ever got the chance, I would implement a student advisory committee into each school in the district, facilitating a connection between students and their advocates. When the opportunity to be the student representative to the school committee arose, I vowed to rise to the challenge to represent my peers in the district. This position granted me the ability to tap into my ambitious nature, and embody the characteristics of a true leader.

Secondly, my passion for languages, inspired by my Taiwanese-American culture, drove me to advocate for those with obstacles regarding language barriers. It drove me to pursue diversity: an integral, key experience students must be exposed to, to succeed in the diverse workforce today. It led me to teaching English in disadvantaged areas of Taiwan, to sitting on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity sub Committee to the School Committee, to discussing with department heads of the high school on how to revise core curriculums to be more reflective of UN Sustainable Goals and cultural relevance. Bringing my Taiwan experience to Barrington by mentoring english second language learners this year, I learned to empathize and seek to understand those with a different culture from my own, which widened my own perspective.

Yet, this position has not been easy. I’ve been frustrated time and time again with communication dead ends, unanswered emails lost in inboxes, and the excruciating, painstakingly snail pace of bureaucratic action. I’m worried with the feeling that these valuable discussions might never result in fruition. Yet, each corner I turn there is hope. I see hope in the students who take advantage of opportunities extended such as the Transition Academy. I see hope when students are seated at the table with department chairs as equals during discussions that affect the entire student body. And lastly, I see hope in students’ eyes as I visit the elementary schools, seeing them being taught in the same, phenomenal fashion as I was, by the same phenomenal teachers I had a decade ago. I also see hope in our future leaders who will take over club leadership positions, student government, and maybe even the school committee student rep position one day. Fueled by this hope, I am able to demonstrate resilience in the face of doubt.

I am so incredibly fortunate to have experienced the exceptional Barrington education system. Barrington Public Schools is a district in which I see educators come to class exuding pure passion in their subjects, and caring deeply about the success and wellbeing of their students. I feel lucky to have been able to play a role in the 2019-2020 school committee, and give back to the education system that has nurtured me thus far. I could not imagine my senior year without being exposed to the inner workings of our school district. Of course, I still get nervous before presentations with the livestream camera swiveling in my direction and the school committee and superintendent staring my way. Yet, nervousness only signifies that I care, and somewhere along the lines, I realized that nervousness and excitement were the same sensation.

Thank you to the educators and administration team of Barrington. I know the phenomenal education I received would not have been possible without you, and I thank you for giving me a strong foundation to build upon as I continue my journey beyond Barrington. I am eternally grateful.


Kelly Kaon


Kelly is a member of Barrington High School Class of 2020.

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