Washougal High School (WHS) students Briahna Ruth and Maliyah Veale are involved in a variety of school activities, including the Associated Student Body (ASB) leadership group and the Panthers’ cheerleading squad. They are also the school’s student representatives to the Washougal School District (WSD) board of directors during the 2019-20 school year.
Veale and Ruth prepare and deliver reports about WHS activities and issues to board members and make presentations to other Washougal students about the topics discussed at board meetings. They attend one meeting per month on a rotating basis.
Veale, a senior, was selected for the role because “she keeps others in mind when she is making decisions, she isn’t afraid to ask questions and will seek input from other students to be informed about what is going on in our school,” said WHS leadership teacher Kyla Richey.
“Maliyah has an amazing ability of including others,” Richey said. “She will sit with someone who is down or alone and will strike up a genuine conversation to get to know them more. Maliyah has always had an interest in the students at our school and wants others to feel better. Every morning you can see her walking the halls to greet everyone and ask how they are doing.”
Ruth, a junior, has found a home with Washougal residents Amy and Stewart Lyall after living with several foster families. She’s also found a home at WHS after struggling to find a fit at her previous schools.
“Briahna is a student that I have found a lot of respect for,” Richey said. “She has had to face situations that many of her peers have never had to experience. Instead of using these experiences as excuses to make unhealthy choices, she has made the decision to take action and make a difference in others’ lives. Whether it is helping or encouraging during cheer or helping someone who is need, Briahna will do it without complaints. She told me earlier this year that she loves WHS and just wants to make it better so that everyone feels included and welcomed here.”
The Post-Record (PR) recently talked with Veale and Ruth about their new roles, school activities and plans for the future. Following are excerpts from that interview:
Why were you interested in becoming a student representative?
Veale: I’m involved in a lot of things at the school, and this is another thing to add on to my portfolio. I think it’s important (for students to be involved) because the older adults don’t see what’s going on in the school. When they visit us, they don’t feel obligated to have to say a certain thing. They can just say exactly how they feel and what needs to be fixed.
Ruth: I feel like I have a really good way of putting things (into perspective) for students at our school. I can kind of put their words into one voice and deliver the message to people to make sure things are getting done at our school that need to be done. Sometimes people don’t have a good way of giving their opinion on things, so I just feel like I can be the person to do that. Plus I just wanted to get more involved in our school and community.
What school activities are you involved in?
Ruth: I wasn’t super involved freshman or sophomore year, but I really think that cheer brought me out of my shell. I did Spanish club for two years. I’ve been in choir since before middle school, and I still do choir now. This is my first year getting involved with ASB, and I’m definitely doing it next year.
Veale: I’ve been involved with our band, drama club, ASB and American Sign Language (ASL). The teacher assistant position I had in the counseling center … helped me learn a lot about the teachers and the school because everyone comes in there for help. And cheerleading has been a huge part of (my high school experience). I also was the manager for the football team for a little bit.
What teachers have made a positive impact on you?
Veale: Kyla Richey has been there for me through everything because I’ve known her since before (high school) as a cheer coach. I go to her for everything. I just feel comfortable talking to her. Or (Heather) Carver. I’ll also go to her about anything.
Ruth: Senora (Rochelle) Quested encouraged me to do my (Spanish) homework every single night. Learning that language is super hard, but I definitely learned the most out of that class. (Marcee) Salas, I had her freshman and sophomore year, and I’m in her room every day. I just love her so much. She’s like my mentor. If I’m having a bad day, that’s the place that I go. She cheers me up and gives me good advice. She’s my favorite teacher.
What are your hobbies outside of school?
Ruth: Anytime I get the chance, I go and visit my aunt. She lives in Seattle, so during winter break, spring break, that’s where I’m going to be. During summer break I’m there for a month. Also, sometimes I hit the gym and stuff like that. But mostly I hang out with my friends. My social group was really small for a while, but then I came out of my shell and opened up. My friends make me feel good.
Veale: During the summer, I like going to the river and swimming. Around winter time, usually snowboarding is my favorite thing to do. I like to go to Mount Hood Meadows. I’ve been (getting serious about it) in the last year and a half, two years. My mom has been snowboarding since before I was born, so she always had a little snowboard around for me. Then two years ago my boyfriend and his dad took me up to Mount Bachelor for a few days. It was a really fun experience, but I cried the whole time because my boyfriend decided to take me down a black diamond run, and it was scary. But I overcame it.
What are your post-graduation plans?
Veale: I really would like to apply to Mount Hood Community College (in Gresham, Oregon) and get my prerequisites done, then transfer to a radiology school, because I want to be an angiogram technologist. I job-shadowed for it, and it’s actually really interesting. You get different types of cases all the time, so you don’t get bored. It’s not easy, but it looks like a good job.
Ruth: I think I want to apply to Washington State University. I kind of want to get out and be in a different place for awhile and have a good experience. I really would like to do makeup and hair. I’m good at it, but I don’t think that’s what I would pursue. Maybe later on. I want to be a social worker or a case manager because I’ve been through the ropes and I know how it works, and I just want to help kids. I want to help people that were in the position that I was in, that my brother was in.
What challenges have you overcome?
Ruth: Moving in with a new family was really hard on me. I’ve lived with different families, and trying to get used to living with different families and parents that are nothing like what you grew up around, people that actually care about how your grades are and how much you’re participating, really put me on the right track, but it also changed a lot of things in my life. But I think it was for the better.
Veale: When I was in eighth grade, I was really badly depressed. I was not very social. I was in my shell a lot. I think cheerleading really brought me out of that shell and brought a whole new positivity to my life.
What are your favorite memories of your time at WHS?
Veale: I’ve been getting a lot closer with the special education students. They’ve really helped me. I have a new perspective because of them. I had been around them for years, but it all started with one girl named Ainslee. She’s really sweet. She was in my ASL class, and I realized I bonded with (her) really well. Then I started meeting more kids in her class, and they have made a good impact on me. They’re all positive. I never see them upset.
Ruth: I loved going to state and watching the girls (win the 2019 girls basketball 2A championship). We were (in Yakima) for three or four days. We got to stay in a hotel with the basketball players. Our band went. We took two different buses and one of them broke down. It was snowing, and we could barely drive the buses. We all went out to eat together, went to the mall – it was so much fun. And watching the girls win was great. I have a picture of all three groups together, and seeing all of us together, it makes my heart feel full.
What do you like best about being a part of the Washougal School District?
Ruth: I had the option of moving up with my aunt with all of the stuff with my family was going down, but I just couldn’t leave. This is where my home is and this is where my people are, even if I don’t have any blood family members here with me. This is just the place that I feel the most comfortable, and I wouldn’t give it up and start again.
Veale: My favorite part would have to be the environment. I like being able to make an impact on everyone. I’m involved with ASB and cheer, so everyone sees me all the time, but I get to know everyone around the school, the school district, the community. I know a lot of people. I think the fact that our community is so together (makes it special). I used to live in Vancouver when I was younger, and it is not the same.
How would you describe yourself?
Veale: A team leader. I’m really good at promoting positivity.
Ruth: Accountable and dedicated. If someone tells me to get something done, I will get it done. I really like helping other people around me. Helping other people makes me feel good about myself. If I can help someone solve their problems, I know anything is doable. I’m a strong believer in anything is possible.