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Sunnyside School Board candidates echo similar concerns

There are three candidates running for the Sunnyside School Board Director 2 position being vacated by Joanne Kilian.

Both Michelle Perry and Darena AhQuin believe it is the role of all citizens to be active in providing a quality education for youngsters in the community.

Robert Lemos was unavailable due to health issues.

AhQuin was encouraged to run for Kilian's seat by a school board member.

"I hadn't thought about it until then," said AhQuin.

She has served as the president of the Sunnyside School District Continuous Improvement Team, which is a parent advisory committee.

"I am well aware of the goals and steps the (school) board is taking to improve education and communication with the community," AhQuin explained.

Perry is a fifth generation Sunnysider and said she feels it is important to lead by example. She wishes to show her six children the act of being a participant in the process, rather than a bystander, is the way in which to assure the best interest of the community is served.

"I feel there needs to be a new, fresh voice and opinion on the school board," she said.

Perry has also been active in the educational process through her many years of volunteer work, and her husband works for the school district.

AhQuin, too, has lived in the community her entire life. She has always believed in parents supporting their children throughout the educational process. She said she believes her role on the parent advisory committee helps her understand the process of decision making on the school board.

She has been involved in the discussions involving school uniforms and has provided the school board with reports regarding issues the advisory committee has wanted addressed.

"As a member of the Sierra Vista Middle School improvement team I provided the school board with data and research on ways to improve student learning at the school," said AhQuin.

Perry is currently finishing her studies at Washington State University Tri-Cities campus to earn a Bachelor's in psychology. She is also working to earn a degree in humanities, with a minor in English.

Education is vital, she said, stating her ultimate goal is to teach students at the college level.

"I feel we need to try to find more ways to get parents involved in their children's education and we need to make sure our children have every opportunity available to them," said Perry.

AhQuin, as an involved parent, agrees.

She said, "It's essential to take an active role, working together as a community and a team, raising the children in our school district," she said.

She said it is important for the community to work together as a team, providing youngsters with guidance for leading healthy, well educated lives.

"We have valuable resources in our older generation, who possess a large knowledge base," AhQuin went on.

She said individuals in our community have lived rich lives and have much to share with the younger generation.

The older generation, AhQuin said, should feel welcome in Sunnyside schools.

Also important to Perry is ensuring students in the school district are provided with opportunities to participate in the arts and music education programs.

She said, "We need to make sure our money goes to our future...our children."

To do so, the school district, said Perry, must be responsible in retaining the high quality of educators and staff members it currently has.

AhQuin believes the school board is doing well to address such issues.

"But, the parent piece still needs more attention," she said, stating it is her hope to bridge the gap between the school district and the parents.

She believes parents need the tools and confidence to share their bevy of skills and talents with youngsters.

"Parents are willing to help and we just need to help them understand how they can do that," said AhQuin.

She believes in meeting people one-on-one, listening to the concerns of people.

"I want to let them know their opinion matters...I won't make any campaign promises, I just want each individual to know what they have to say is important," said AhQuin.

She went on to wish her opponents well, stating she wants the community to choose whomever they feel is best for serving on the school board.

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