Mata Joins Board of Education

Dannalee Mata, East Leyden's 2019-2020 Student Board of Education Member

Picture courtesy of Mr.Markey

Many people believe in the saying that “We are the future,” especially the admin at Leyden High School, who recently swore in two Leyden students to Leyden’s Board of Education. Their job is to represent the student body and let them shape the future of Leyden.

The tradition to add one senior from East Leyden and another senior from West Leyden onto the school board started three years ago, a fairly new idea since a majority of school boards consisted of members of the community and not the students. When Leyden heard that Morton High School was offering their students the opportunity to serve on the board, they wanted to give the same opportunity to their students, to further their students’ success and that is where East Leyden student, Dannalee Mata comes in the picture. 

Mata started her senior year by finding herself on the School Board. On August 15, Mata and West Leyden senior Maximus Gonzalez earned the opportunity to serve. Mata never saw it coming: “When Mr. Markey told me he had more leadership opportunities for me in the future, I never expected the opportunity to be serving on the board.” Mata explained how this opportunity came along, which just happened to be by devoting her time the summer before junior year and attending a leadership summit. Mata was “in total shock.”

Mr. Markey shed some light on why having student board members is beneficial to Leyden and why it sticks to Leyden’s motto: “What’s best for the kids.” According to Markey, it provided Leyden with “additional ways to ensure that the student’s voices are valued and heard” as Mr. Markey said. He continues to tell us, ” I have heard our current school board members share often how much perspective it has given them”.  As a student board member, Mata is allowed to voice her opinions and suggestions during the meetings, as well as voice the student body, but she will not be able to sit in during closed meetings and vote on the board’s bills.

 Mata’s dedication to Leyden doesn’t just stop at serving as a student board member; she likes to call herself a “band geek” as she is involved in the Marching Band, Jazz Band, and Symphonic Band, but alongside her love for music comes her love for STEM. She’s an active member of Tech gURLs, Principa, Makerspace Club, and the Math Team. But Dannalee is a student before a school board member and club member; she challenges herself when it comes to school and has taken multiple AP classes and Honors weight classes all of which has paid off as she is a member of two honor societies, she thanks Leyden for giving her the opportunity to challenge herself with these classes and allowing herself to be involved at her school, as she knows many students in other High Schools aren’t giving the number of opportunities Leyden grants its students. As the future of Leyden progresses, so does her future and in 10 years Dannalee hopes to get her masters in electrical engineering technology, but as she says, “Ideally no matter how my path changes, I will be happy”.

The future of Leyden is unknown, but Mata hopes to create an impact on it, especially since her younger sister will be attending in a few years. As one of the few lucky students who have gotten to serve on the school board, Mata wants peers to know that her true “job” is the serve you. She hopes all the opportunities she was given throughout her four years will continue to be given to all of the involved, driven, and passionate students at Leyden.