BRATTLEBORO -- A Putney resident who has done pretty well for himself in Vermont politics is welcoming a fellow Putney-ite into the fold.
Gov. Peter Shumlin has named Brattleboro Union High School student Lachlan Francis to the Vermont Board of Education.
Francis, 16, a former Putney Central School student and a junior at BUHS, will serve on the state board for two years as a student representative.
He is the son of Brattleboro Planning Director Rod Francis.
"When the governor called he said he was glad to pick another Putney boy for the board," Lachlan Francis said Friday after the governor's office announced the appointment. "I'll never forget that."
The nine-member Board of Education has two high school students on it.
One is a voting member and the second serves for one year as a non-voting member and then votes the following year when an additional high school student is appointed to replace the voting member after he or she finishes a two-year term.
Francis said he was encouraged to apply for the position by his English teacher, Teresa Appel.
He submitted an application and interviewed with five members of the governor's education team, including former State Senator Susan Bartlett who acts as the Governor's Special Adviser on education issues.
Francis played basketball for the Colonels, though he is not sure he will have time this year with his expanded responsibilities on the State
He is also involved with a number of political organizations at the high school including the Children Labor Education and Action Project, Preserve Our Planet, and he is co-chairman of the newly formed BUHS political action committee which is going to work on the upcoming election.
Francis said that while he is interested in a wide range of causes, he considers education to be one of the most important services that government provides and he said he is eager to leave his mark on Vermont's education system.
He will be serving on the State Board as Vermont goes through what will arguably be one of the most interesting periods in recent history.
Next year the governor will name a Commissioner of Education for the first time following the Legislature's move in the last session to take that responsibility out of the hands of the State Board.
A committee has been named to conduct a nationwide search for the next commissioner.
And as the 2014 date for states to meet the deadlines for the federal No Child Left Behind law expires, Francis will be in the thick of it as Vermont, and 45 other states, adopt the new Common Core Standards.
Francis said he has already received a 200-page packet for a State Board meeting and he is looking forward to reading up on the issues that face Vermont educators.
"Education is the most powerful weapon," he said, quoting Nelson Mandela. "You can use it to change the world."
BUHS started a program called Collegiate High School, which allows high school students to take college level classes, and receive college credits.
The State Board is looking at expanding the program across the state and Francis said he was looking forward to lending his voice in support of that initiative.
The State Board meets once a month, mostly in Montpelier, but also at sites across the state.
The October meeting will be held in Brattleboro.
Francis is the first Windham County student to be named to the State Board in at least 10 years.
He said he is looking forward to representing students in all grades from across the state.
"I am taking this seriously," he said. "I live in the southeastern corner of the state and go to a school with 1,000 students but I am also going to speaking for the kids in the school with 50 students in the far northwestern corner of the state. I am going to be the voice for all of the students in Vermont."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.