BPC alum, Ian Segall (‘19), is a senior at Berkeley High School and the current Student Director on the BUSD board. After Ian returned to BPC in October for the annual High School Information Night, we were able to catch up with him in December to talk about his current role, his time at BPC, and what comes next. Our Director of Communications and Special Events, Lesley Jones led the conversation:
Lesley Jones: You are senior at BHS, and the current Student Director on the BUSD board – can you tell us a bit about how you came to take on this role? Were you elected?
Ian Segall: I first heard about the role during my freshman year, through the student government at BHS. I didn’t think I would run initially, but my interest in policy and student advocacy grew and led me to run. BHS holds an election event in the spring – the big ticket positions are elected roles, and this is one of them. It’s part of the larger group of leadership at BHS.
LJ: What does this role entail?
Ian: Good question! It’s a special kind of seat on the board – I’m the student representative surrounded by elected officials. I don’t have an official vote on the board, but in some cases I can act as a tie-break vote. The board cares about student input, so at meetings I ask questions that highlight student issues, discuss student events, and I make comments on the direction of the district. Board meetings aren’t the most riveting, so it’s kind of hard for students to engage. My role is to share summaries of meetings on social media, make information accessible to students, hold office hours, provide weekly announcements, and generally act as a conduit between BHS students and the board.
LJ: What advice would you give to a student looking to get involved in their school board?
Ian: Attend meetings and don’t be afraid to ask questions! You are a student engaging in the governing board of your school district, and adults will respond to that and help you get the information you want. Just start talking – ask questions of your administrators, teachers, and principals. My superiors have been really open to speaking with me and receptive to asks – go for it, don’t be afraid!
LJ: Switching gears here, and hopefully this doesn’t feel too long ago for you but, what were the highlights of being a student at BPC? What impacted you the most?
Ian: Definitely the academic support, teacher relationships, and friendships I made. Some of my friends from 4th grade are still my best friends today. I’ve stayed close with a lot of people which was really helpful when transitioning to high school. I came to BHS with advanced foundations in math and Spanish that helped me excel, and allowed me to explore new subjects and more advanced challenges. I felt really connected to the teachers at BPC – every adult was open and accepting even if you weren’t their student – they always made time for you.
LJ: Tell us about your interests from BPC to now – are you still practicing ballet? [Ian was an avid ballet dancer when attending BPC]
Ian: Yeah! Over Covid-19 it was hard to keep up, but during my junior year I started dancing a lot more. This past summer, I was invited to dance at the School of American Ballet in NYC for their summer program. Everyone was rigorous, intense, dedicated – we all embraced each other and improved. I never thought I’d be accepted, and I was shocked to be asked to stay for the year-round program! I had to grapple between returning to BHS to sit on the school board and staying in NYC to dance. Ultimately, I decided to come back to Berkeley and dial back on dance, but I don’t regret my decision! I’ll keep dancing in college.
Catch a clip of Ian dancing in his summer program here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CgCaVvrL_6o/
LJ: What comes next for you?
Ian: Luckily I’m done with college applications, and I just got the good news before the winter break that I was accepted, early decision, to Columbia! I have no idea what I want to pursue as a career, but I have an interest in chemistry and law because of classes I’ve taken in high school. I won’t be majoring in dance, but I’ve researched non-major dance programs and clubs that I plan on pursuing in college.
Join us in sending well wishes to Ian as he enters his final semester at BHS and prepares to head off to college in the fall! Big thanks to Ian for taking the time to speak with us, reminisce on his time at BPC, and share insight about how to get involved in school government.