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Students Deserve Better: Community Rallies Hoping to See Change in the PRJUSD School Board


Students, school board candidates, and community members rally to spread awareness regarding school board elections through personal testimonies, voter registration, and candidate presentation.

The “Students Deserve Better Rally” was put on by Yessenia Echevarria, co-founder of Paso People’s Action, a North County activist group with a focus on racial, civil, and educational issues. The purpose of the event was to get potential voters registered, as well as express a desire for racial and political diversity within the seven-member PRJUSD school board. Senior Israel Pérez hosted the event, a student leader known for his active involvement in campus clubs including BSU, MEChA, and ACT.

Israel Pérez (12) introducing upcoming speakers
Marcy Goodnow sharing her story with the crowd.

“I’ve lived this life here never ever feeling like I could walk out in the street with my partner, and that has got to change,” said Marcy Goodnow, the first openly gay teacher at PRHS and first speaker of the rally. “Our boys have two moms, they’re in this district, and I want them to be proud of their moms.” With school board elections coming up on November 8, students, teachers, community members, and candidates are raising awareness in efforts to see changes made to the Paso Robles School Board that will further allow for changes made within the school district after two years of turbulence, national attention, and tension.  Goodnow was one of several speakers looking for change. 

“Being constantly told that my identity is ‘weird’ has taken a toll on me. Homophobic and racist kids don’t get the same punishments that others do. I would like to see proper disciplinary actions.”
Isael Rendon
Isael Rendon12
“I believe that they’re going to be about students, I believe that they’re going to be about family. I believe that they’re going to bring the board together with us, teachers. We don’t need division, we need to embrace the diversity that Paso Robles High School has.”
Brenda Matthysse
Brenda MatthysseCareers in Education & Early Childhood Development Teacher
“I believe student involvement in board decisions reaching out to students when you’re unsure about decisions directly affecting them and going into the classroom are all things a good school board member will do. I believe enforcing this will help foster the creation of good policies and be the catalyst for positive change.”
Eve Barajas
Eve Barajas11

The speakers at the event shared their support for three candidates: Sondra Williams, Jim Cogan, and Adelita Hiteshew. Cogan and Hiteshew were both present at the event, and shared their aims with the community. 

“I want you to know that for me, it is personal and I think that really over the last couple of years we’ve seen division and darkness take hold of our school board. The school board’s role is to raise the level of public discourse to get us inspired for things we can talk about.”
Jim Cogan

“When I applied for the open position on the school board, I was told I was too flowery and emotional. I brought my flowers with me, and hopefully that spreads. Hopefully we can spread those flowers throughout our community.”
Adelita Hiteshew

Hiteshew sharing her aims for the school district with the crowd.
Hiteshaw’s campaign sign displays three red flowers across the top in support of her message.


To close out the rally, Echevarria shared her thoughts, as well as her intent for another rally to happen in the coming weeks. The audience of the rally consisted of around 60 people. Community members stood across the park, many of them holding several campaign signs to display in their yards. Echevarria hopes to see a future rally with triple the amount of people present. School board elections will take place on November 8. There will be three candidates selected for four-year terms, and one candidate for a two-year term.

“Guys, it is up to us. We have done the work, we have shown up. It has been two plus years of blood, sweat, and tears, literally. I know that the change has to continue. Please vote because our children’s lives, our community’s lives, depend on it. Thank you so much.”

Yessenia Echevarria
Co-Founder Paso People’s Action

Other candidates not present at this event will be present at other rallies in the coming weeks, as well as a forum at PRHS on Nov. 3

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About the Contributor
Elise Mathers
Elise Mathers, Editor-in-Chief

Elise Mathers is in her third and final year as a Crimson staff member and is the new Editor-in-Chief this year. Previously she was involved in the News section, and continues now as Co-News Director, hoping to pursue newswriting in the future. She looks forward to expanding her leadership and a great senior crimson year.

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