Monday’s Delaware City Schools Board of Education meeting marked the final meeting for student board member Mary Grace Duffy.
Duffy was a senior at Hayes High School in June 2019 when she became the student board member. As the student board member, Duffy updated the board on what was happening at Hayes, and she represented the student body as a whole. Duffy also had a symbolic vote on all board actions.
On Wednesday, Duffy said not only did she enjoy her time on the board, but the experience also improved her leadership skills.
“I enjoyed that this was an opportunity for me to be a different kind of leader,” she said. “One thing I learned was how to communicate the needs and achievements of a mass group of students. I think what is important about this role is seeking out individual people or groups to accurately depict the uniqueness of these amazing young adults.”
Duffy graduated from Hayes in May and will be attending the College of Wooster this fall to study environmental studies.
She said her favorite part of her time on the board was delivering the student welcome during the school’s graduation ceremony.
“This year alone we, as a student body, overcame a lot when the pandemic interrupted our social and academic life,” Duffy said. “I wanted to highlight just how resilient, diligent, and creative we are as students inside and outside of our community.”
Duffy said the COVID-19 outbreak made her role as a student and as the student board member even more challenging.
“None of (us) could have prepared for this period of time,” she said. “Not only was it difficult not learning in school, but it was difficult not seeing and speaking to peers in person. I missed being present with people, having their full attention and them having mine. I missed voices. I just missed the action or intent of listening to one and being heard. This made my role challenging, because it seemed as though everything in life just stopped. It just became stunted in place. There was no thrill, no action, but an attempt to make life as normal as possible.”
Duffy said she’ll be spending her summer working for the district as part of the summer crew, and she’s thankful to be able to help out the district one more time.
“(I’m) giving back to the district that has provided me with an excellent education, and it’s lovely working with people that I’ve grown up with,” she said. “I would love to take part in community work in Delaware and in my home away from home — Wooster, Ohio — improving environmental conditions and the conditions marginalized people are experiencing due to the climate crisis. I am passionate about people and the place we all call home, so my life will always be dedicated to preserving that relationship.”
The board bid ‘farewell’ to Duffy during Monday’s meeting and thanked her for her service on the board.
On Tuesday, board member Jayna McDaniel-Browning said she’ll miss Duffy’s presence on the board, and she looks forward to seeing what Duffy does next.
“We were fortunate to have Mary Grace serving as our student board member this past year,” said McDaniel-Browning, who served as the board’s president last year. “She did a great job of representing her fellow students at Hayes, and we appreciated her enthusiasm and candor. I’ll miss seeing her at meetings, but look forward to hearing about her new adventures; I know great things are ahead for her!”
District Superintendent Heidi Kegley added, “I am so grateful to Mary Grace for her leadership and for her passion for serving others. She was always willing to listen to others, share ideas, and look for solutions.”
Duffy’s replacement, incoming Hayes senior Mackenzie Collett, will be sworn in at the DCS BOE meeting.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.