Madeline O’Leary: Taking action to help WHS


Credit: Madeline O'Leary

WHS senior, Madeline O’Leary, has been meeting with Superintendent, Omar Easy, all year to help face problems at WHS. She has worked with students and Easy to help create a better experience for everyone. “I have talked to a bunch of students, listened to them and wrote down their thoughts.” O’Leary said.

Sophia Oppenheim

Last winter senior Madeline O’Leary was nominated by history teacher, Katherine Bassen, to be a student liaison, a position proposed by Superintendent Omar Easy. Easy wanted to create a position in order to have better communication between the school committee board and the student body.

This is the first time that this student representative position has been proposed at WHS. To be chosen for the position, O’Leary went through a series of interviews with Easy. She now works alongside Easy to present problems at the high school to school committee.

“I meet with Dr. Easy once a month to discuss different student perspectives from the high school, whether those be concerns and frustrations,” O’Leary said. “Then he and I decide together which problems would be the most productive to bring to the school committee meeting.”

Each month at the school committee meetings, O’Leary presents new problems at the high school to the school committee board. During these meetings she sits with Easy while he makes his superintendent monthly announcements.

This month O’Leary shared the students’ frustrations about parking pass prices at WHS. She was able to get a response from school committee members stating that they would look further into the issue.

“I really like getting to know Dr. Easy on a personal level and to hear his feedback and his thoughts, and to see how engaged and excited he is about the high school,” O’Leary said. “That’s something I really want to show the students, that he’s really on our team and a part of the high school, not just someone who is at the town building.”

To ensure that all student opinions are being heard, O’Leary has been going from advisory to advisory and talking to as many students as she can, collecting their opinions on different issues at the high school. After hearing their concerns, she forms her own opinions on the subject and then decides how to tackle the situation with Easy.

“I would say that I am definitely someone who connects with a lot of people so I hear a lot of different perspectives and ideas and frustrations from people,” O’Leary said. “I have always wanted a way to communicate that [perspectives and ideas] to administration or to the town.”

Throughout her time as the student representative, O’Leary has also had many underclassmen share concerns about meeting with teachers. Many freshmen feel that they do not have the adequate resources to meet with teachers need because of study halls.

“I feel like it’s really easy for students to complain to each other but there is not really a good way for that to be turned into change and for that to be constructive criticism instead of just complaints,” O’Leary said. “So now I feel like I now have the opportunity to talk to students and say ‘what is bothering you?’ and then actually come up with ideas and propose those ideas for how we can change things.”

O’Leary also has her own concerns which she hopes to bring up to the school committee. She will be attending next month’s meeting and each one following.

“I really want to address giving students more opportunities for unity at the school and more events and times that we can come together as a whole,” O’Leary said. “That’s one of the big things that I have in the works and I think that it is a way for people to really come together on school grounds and to have that as something to look forward to.”

Now that she has been working in the position for a few months, O’Leary wants to expand the topics she presents to the school committee. She wants students to know that they can reach out to her through email, social media or come up and talk to her in person.

“I think this has given me a really good way to meet new people which I wouldn’t necessarily talk to,” O’Leary said. “It also helps students express their thoughts on things in a positive way and not just through complaining.”