Who they are
Who: Simon Lange
About him: A high school senior at Mohonasen High School. First run for school board, and first year he’s eligible to run.
Who: Lisa Gaglioti
About her: District sales manager for Victoria’s Secret. First run for school board. Has daughter in eighth grade at Draper Middle School.
Who: Nancy del Prado
About her: 24-year incumbent seeking ninth term on the board. Has served as president and vice president. Management specialist in the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General. Four children, all Mohonasen graduates.
Most school board candidates can think back to their high school days and recall what they were like.
Simon Lange is different. He doesn’t have to do any recollecting.
The 18-year-old hasn’t graduated from high school yet.
The Mohonasen High School senior is running for one of two spots on the Board of Education against two others: Nancy del Prado, a 24-year incumbent, and Lisa Gaglioti, a newcomer who has a daughter entering ninth grade at the high school in the fall.
“Education’s always been a very important factor to me,” Lange said of his decision to run. “I’ve been across the board, and I know what it’s like to be the low student and the high student.”
Lange is not the only local high school student running for school board this spring. Matthew Schultz, a senior at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, also is seeking a seat on his district’s board of education.
A Mohon tradition
Lange also isn’t the first high school senior to throw his hat into the race at Mohonasen. Joe Salamone won a seat on the board in 2005 and served two three-year terms. In 1975, John Woodward ran for school board and topped three other candidates. He served three terms.
School board elections are Tuesday, May 20.
“I think it’s a great experience,” said Woodward, who is the Schenectady County clerk. “It certainly teaches you how the real world is put together because you’re dealing with budgets, you’re dealing with contract negotiations and you’re dealing with evaluation of personnel.”
For Woodward, it led to a career in public service. He majored in political science at Schenectady County Community College and SUNY Albany and has been county clerk since 1994.
“It clearly had an impact on me staying involved in public-service kinds of things,” he said.
Lange, 18, will attend Hudson Valley Community College in the fall, so he’ll be around to attend school board meetings. He plans to study pre-med and paramedics.
Lange wants to be a doctor, although he wasn’t always on the path to becoming one.
While he earned straight As in elementary school, as he approached high school, he “started slacking off a lot” and his grades dropped, he said.
But starting sophomore year, he had some teachers who showed him “the appeal of intelligence,” and encouraged him to turn things around.
As a junior, he took a medical technologies class with Adam Barr that renewed his interest in medical studies and science.
“That was one of the classes that really showed the practicality of all of the information you were receiving,” he said. “We did a lot of experiments. “
As he prepares to graduate, he’s a straight-A student again with honors and Advanced Placement courses under his belt.
He is involved with student yearbook, he played varsity soccer and he’s an unofficial member of the student council, though some people might think he was elected.
“I’m actually not on the student council — I’m just around so much for the meetings,” he said.
Lange will give his classmates a proper sendoff by making the closing speech at graduation, after he won the school’s annual speech-giving contest.
His appeal to the voters: “I am a student, so I understand the actual effects of things and what that decision is actually going to create for the student. Is it going to create a better environment, or does it just look better on paper?”
Welcomed in race
Del Prado, who is seeking her ninth term, said she welcomes Lange in the race and would be glad to serve on the board with him.
“It’s not about the experience,” said del Prado, 57. “It’s about the desire to give back, it’s about doing what’s best for the kids, and he’s there. He’s current.”
Gaglioti said she sees herself as “right in the middle of the two” in terms of relevant experience. As a district sales manager for Victoria’s Secret, Gaglioti is responsible for 12 stores. She has been a catechist at the St. Madeleine Sophie Faith Formation since 2006, and previously served as vice president of the parish council at Christ the King Church.
“I feel that with my own experiences in the workforce and my leadership [experience] can really impact the business,” she said. “I think it’s great that he’s coming out of high school. I guess his experience level with the things that the board has to do from a financial standpoint, is probably where we differ.”
She said students should have a voice in the decisions that affect them, even if a student isn’t serving on the board.
“I believe that you can’t make a decision by yourself, you need everybody’s involvement,” she said. “You need students’ involvement, you need teachers’ involvement.”
The students do have representation on the board through a member of the student council that attends meetings, but Lange said he would be more than that.
“I think it makes a lot of sense to have a young mind, a student to be there and actually get a vote on things, to actually be part of the group discussion,” he said.
“It’s never a bad idea to have somebody that’s a direct product of the school system on the school board,” he said.