After much discussion, the Hopkinton School Committee on Thursday named Amanda Fargiano vice chair. Member Holly Morand also expressed interest in assuming that role.
The board waited until all five members were present to complete its reorganization process. One factor stalling the decision was the fact that both Fargiano and Morand have terms expiring next spring.
The need for continuity is important, members noted. However, the decision fell to two new board members, Adam Munroe and Susan Stephenson, who expect to use their first year getting adjusted and learning.
Morand assured committee members that she has “no ego,” and she would not be sad over any decision. She said she was willing to function together with other board members and did not want to put the new members in an awkward position.
Fargiano served as vice chair this past year. She said experience is helpful, and she wanted to continue in the role. She explained the most important duties are serving as a backup to chair Nancy Cavanaugh, agenda planning with her and being prepared to guide the committee in its responsibility for the budget, policymaking and evaluating the superintendent.
As the meeting continued with a lack of a motion, Fargiano, too, assured board members that she would move on just fine with either selection.
Describing himself as “personally torn,” Munroe expressed the hope that they both run for another School Committee term. He described Morand and Fargiano as “fantastic” before Stephenson nominated the latter.
Liaison roles selected
Another portion of the meeting centered around committee members deciding who would take on what liaison positions with other boards and organizations.
Munroe noted that his background in behavioral health and nursing would be helpful in working with Hopkinton Organizing for Prevention (HOP) and the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC).
Stephenson volunteered to join Fargiano working on the policy board and selected the Youth Commission as well, while Fargiano opted to stay on the Sustainable Green Committee.
Cavanaugh will continue to serve on the English Language Parent Advisory Council (ELPAC) and the Elementary School Building Committee (ESBC), recently taking over for Lya Batlle-Rafferty and Jen Devlin, who opted not to seek reelection.
Morand answered the call to be the backup person on the ESBC as well as liaison to the Planning Board.
Cavanaugh said they would circle back midyear to see how members are faring as liaisons in these areas as well as a few others. Changes can occur if scheduling or other difficulties arise, she said.
Unified track team, national science fair winners applauded
During the recognitions portion of the meeting, the committee welcomed members of the Hopkinton High School unified track and field team that recently won its second consecutive Division 2 state championship.
Coach Chip Collins noted that all participants compete on a level playing field, and “each member contributes to the team in one way or another.” He explained that a few eighth graders participated at the high school level this season and helped earn points that gave the team the victory.
He added that the athletes all abide by his wishes to work hard, have fun and display good sportsmanship.
The committee also heard from a trio of students who took third place in the International Science Fair last month in Dallas. A state championship victory for sophomore Dylan Striek and juniors Disha Mudenar and Rylee Blair meant they qualified to compete against other young scientists from around the world.
Their project is titled “The Electrolytic Extraction of Dawsonite from Ocean Water: Efficient Saltwater Mineral Recovery through Electrolysis.”
The students explained that their project involved creating a method to extract carbon dioxide from the ocean by using dawsonite, a natural mineral.
Teacher and program director Kristen Murphy noted that the science fair is popular at the high school, with more than 100 students participating this year. She said what impresses her about the winning trio is “how much fun they have and how much they like solving problems.”
The prototype the students built, a small machine called “Dawsonite Diver,” is gaining a lot of attention. The students are in the process of filing a patent and getting licensing for it. The device goes on the back of boats to reverse ocean acidification.
“Thank you for putting Hopkinton on the map,” Morand said.
The next School Committee meeting is July 6.