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GISH Senior, Adi Beltran, Ready to Lead on School District’s Biggest Platform

Senior photo of GISH student, Adi Beltran, smiling while sitting in a green field of orange flowers

September 13, 2023

For one Senior, the opportunity to lead was too important to pass up.

Adilene “Adi” Beltran, a Senior at Grand Island Senior High (GISH), is set to serve as the next Student Representative on the Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS) Board of Education.  On Thursday, September 14th, at 6:30 p.m., Beltran will be sworn-in as the new Student Representative and will serve through the 2023-24 school year.

“I want to represent my class and my school as a whole.”  Beltran shared, “Although it may not be a position that sounds “the best” like a Class President – I think my role has potential to do the most good.  I have the opportunity to work directly with the Superintendent and the Board.  I’m going to be the voice of GISH in this role.”

Beltran will join a long list of student leaders lending their voice in the GIPS Board Room.  Starting in 2007, the GIPS Board of Education has proudly invited one Senior from GISH to occupy a seat at the table and engage in the process of making their school and the district better. 

While the role of Board Student Representative does not carry voting agency, the student rep has ample opportunity to influence discussion, considerations, and impact opportunities for change.  Beltran, like her predecessors, will attend each regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting and sit at the same rotunda as the elected Board Members.  As an active participant, she will have the opportunity to hear all public reports, presentations, and requests. She will have the chance to share comments and questions from her perspective along the way.  Additionally, Beltran will share a monthly report on the latest updates, concerns, and ideas from Grand Island Senior High’s student body. 

Previously, the Student Board Representative was selected through a GISH Staff and Administration nomination process.  Finalists would then interview with GIPS Board leadership and make a selection.  Not so the case this year.

In true democratic fashion, the unique student leadership opportunity broke new ground for the 2023-24 school year.

The Student Superintendent Advisory Council (SSAC), a group of diverse GISH student leaders from all grades across the Academies, is a group that meets monthly with the district Superintendent.  Part of their feedback last year was requesting a reasonable change to the Board Student Representative selection process.  Simply put, they wanted the GISH student body to select who would represent them in the board room. Mr. Matt Fisher, GIPS Interim Superintendent, and Mr. Jeff Gilbertson, GISH Executive Principal, agreed.  

And so, the Islanders voted. 

GIPS Board Room name plate reading:  Adilene Beltran, Student Representative

Last Spring, GISH students had the opportunity to vote between a field of incoming Senior candidates for their Student Board Representative for the first time.

Adi Beltran graciously won the election… although, she almost didn’t run.

“Initially, I wasn’t interested.” Beltran admitted, “It was really through the mentorship of Mayra Quintana and Joana Reyes in the GearUp program  that inspired me to consider the opportunity. They encouraged me by saying I had the capacity to be a good leader and that I shouldn’t let an opportunity to grow pass by.”

If the election results are an indication, GISH students are familiar with Adi and her commitment to the school. Beltran is a student athlete competing both on the Girls Cross Country and Girls Track Teams. She is also a member of National Honor Society, a voice on the Student Council, and a leader for the GISH Book Club which is sponsored by the GearUp program. 

Mr. Jeff Gilbertson affirmed Beltran’s new leadership position.

“We’re excited to have Adi Beltran lead her fellow classmates and represent our school at the Board level!” Gilbertson continued, “She is a dynamic leader who will certainly use her voice to make a positive impact. We’re proud of her and look forward to seeing what the year brings.”

Why is the opportunity so important?

To Adi, it comes back to representation.

“Approximately 65% of GISH students are people of color. And as a student of color, I really felt like the Student Board Rep should actually represent GISH.” Beltran said, “I wanted to do my part in helping the majority of the school to be represented in that role. My experience at GISH has been pretty positive. I think the school does a pretty good job of trying to make everyone feel included and that their students are okay. I want to be a part of that work.”