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ASB Rep Strives to Advise School Board

Photo courtesy Vahini Garimella
Vahini Garimella is the San Marino High School Associated Student Body representative to the school board.

With local school facilities closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, San Marino High School’s Associated Student Body is also limited mostly to online activities as the month-old 2020-21 academic year continues under the format of distance learning.
None of that has slowed senior Vahini Garimella as she carries out her duties as ASB school board representative. Because her position directly involves matters at the district, Garimella wouldn’t know the difference between quarantine and boom time based on her workload. In her position, Garimella remotely attends every open meeting held by the school board, is invited to engage in discussion and even casts an advisory vote on all matters that are voted on by the five elected San Marino Unified School District board members. Garimella figuratively has hit the ground running, with the help of an internet connection.
“I am extremely pleased that COVID-19 restrictions have not limited my specific role in ASB, especially since our ASB group activities have been limited,” said Garimella. “I now have more time that I can devote to being the school board rep and voicing the concerns of the student body.”
Created in the late 1990s, the school board representative slot is one of the most sought-after on the ASB’s roster. Garimella was initially selected last spring along with about 15 other candidates from the application pool. From there, she went through a short interview with the former and current ASB presidents and vice presidents. She was then asked to participate in a second interview with 2020 grad Grace Davis, the immediate past school board representative. After that relatively lengthy process, she was accepted to fill the position.
Garimella said her predecessor has been an excellent shepherd.
“Grace coached me for days leading up to my first board meeting and continued to help me every so often until I felt truly acclimated to being the school board representative,” Garimella said of her mentor, who recently began her freshman year at Samford University.
In the role, Garimella weighs in on all of the matters of the district, from the trivial to the critical.
“I wanted to be the school board rep because I knew it would give me a direct outlet to make sure students’ voices are heard and help the school board strengthen the district as a whole,” Garimella added.
Aside from ASB, Garimella is in her second year as a member of Link Crew and her fourth season in SMHS girls’ tennis, which will begin in February under a schedule that was adjusted because of the pandemic. The daughter of Neelima and Prasad Garimella, she has an older sister, Sameera, a 2018 SMHS graduate who is a junior at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Vahini is considering filling out applications to UC San Diego, Kenyon College and Bowdoin College with hopes of following her parents into medicine. In the meantime, she is staying busy until things “open up,” as they say.
“With the pandemic, everything is so chaotic right now and I feel awful for those who are being directly affected by it,” Garimella said. “Because both of my parents are doctors, I am definitely able to understand the magnitude of COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing. During my time off, I have been trying to keep myself busy by doing college research, working with ASB, and doing various projects.”
And keeping the school board on its collective toes, too.

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