WEST ORANGE, NJ — This year’s student liaisons were introduced during the Sept. 23 Board of Education meeting, marking the second year that student representation has been included at regular board meetings.
Senior Darlene Folas and junior Senay Dani were introduced as the new high school representatives. Last year’s team of Sessina Dani and Aarushi Bhatnagar made an important impact on last year’s board meetings, offering student perspective on board issues and initiatives. They created a student website to facilitate communication among students and to provide a forum to bring concerns to the board. They also lobbied for feminine hygiene products to be made free and available to high school students, solutions to busing issues, and a later high school start time.
In addition to her new role as student liaison, Folas serves on the Student Council, working on many of its initiatives, including suicide prevention and attending the Student Leadership Summit. Folas has been part of the AFJROTC since freshman year and currently leads the Advertisement Flight. She also held leadership roles in Academic and Logistics Flight.
“I recognized the BOE liaison as a position that was in line with many of the initiatives I was pursuing during my junior year and an extension of my passion for social justice and activism,” Folas said. “Last year I lead a club called WOKE and served as the president of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation Youth Advisory Board. These positions showed me that I was capable of leadership roles like BOE liaison and had a genuine passion for the community impact it made.
“I am looking forward to work alongside Senay as student liaisons. We are discussing exciting ideas for this school year and I have a commitment to serving the voices of the students in our district,” she concluded.
Dani is following in his sister’s footsteps as he begins his new role as student liaison. In addition to his liaison role, Dani has run varsity long-distance track and cross-country since freshman year and hopes to make the Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon with the team.
“I am also looking into running during college, and hopefully professionally later on,” he said.
Dani has also been part of the AFJROTC since freshman year and participated in the Cadet Leadership Course, held at the Air Force Joint McGuire Base with cadets from several AFJROTC programs. He was promoted to officer rank as a flight commander and has recently been promoted to force support officer for the squadron.
Dani was elected by the student body to be a student liaison on the Student Council, attending meetings and participating in training events.
In describing his decision to become a BOE student liaison, Dani said, “I expressed interest in this position after I saw the change that my sister was able to create. I saw this as a positive force that I could get behind and change my school system for the better, and make it more inclusive for everyone. I always desire to make a positive impact in everything that I do and this position seemed perfect for my goals to better the district.”