DANVILLE — On Monday evening, the Danville School Board swore in a new member, 20-year-old student Luke Stephenson.
Stephenson graduated from Danville Community High School on June 1, 2012.
“When I graduated, Danville schools weren’t where they needed to be, in my opinion,” he said. “When I started my high school career we were the best school in the county but by the end we were the worst, and that didn’t settle well with me.”
Stephenson said he decided he might be able to help change things.
“I’m not really someone to say ‘well this person can take care of it,’” he said. “I’m more of a go-getter. I live in a small town and I know what I’m talking about, so I thought ‘why don’t I run?’”
Stephenson served as a student liaison for the school board when he was in high school and said was able to learn more about education on a state level.
“I figured if I don’t run it’ll at least turn into a discussion about a 19-year-old trying to run for school board, so I filed in August 2012,” he said.
He went door to door to get his voice heard before the November election.
“He touched about 2,500 voters and he just really learned all the facts and the issues of what’s good for the teachers, the students and the monies,” Jane Morris-Stephenson, his mother, said. “This is his passion. He’s always wanting to fix something or help understand it. I’m very proud of him.”
Stephenson said he was surprised to see support coming from people on the opposite side of the age spectrum. He expected to get the most push back from them, but instead found them to be the most inviting.
“Many of them said that it was awesome to see someone young doing this,” he said. “I think my age has been my best asset.”
Stephenson is from a family with a large educational background, and while being a member on the school board, he also is attending Ivy Tech, works part-time at the Courthouse Grounds, and has his own tutoring business.
“I still have friends in high school, friends who I’m tutoring who are still in high school, I’m fighting for them,” he said. “My addition is a different involvement with the school. My biggest goal is to make sure the students are the center of everything that we do, they are our clients, they are unwilling clients who basically have to buy our product, and I think student voices are important.”
Stephenson is planning on transferring to the University of Indianapolis next fall, while continuing to serve on the school board.
“This community has given so much to me as I was growing up,” he said. “I was born and raised in Danville, both my parents graduated from Danville High School, my relatives taught or were administrators here at Danville, so for me, this community has built me. Now it’s my time to give back to the community.