The Panther Valley School Board welcomed a new member last night – student body representative and high school senior John Owens.

The student representative is new this year, and a move that Superintendent Rosemary Porembo hopes will provide an important communication link between the board and the students.

"We hope to gain awareness of views regarding issues which affect students and work constructively with the student rep to ensure a quality education is being provided," she said.

The student representative must be at least 16 years of age, be of good moral character and a resident of the school district for at least one year. Applications for the position are due by May 15 and are reviewed by the student council. The process for choosing an alternate representative from the junior class is currently underway.

The student representative is responsible for attending all board meetings, as a non-voting member. Owens will be asked to provide a short report to the board. Additionally, as the student rep, he must refrain from responding to student complaints and will instead refer them to the appropriate party.

Owens, the son of Patrick and Judy Owens of Lake Hauto, is a member of the National Honor Society, and has served on student council. He is the vice president of the CLIU 21's student forum and has been a member of the Panther Valley football team for four years. He also hosts his own radio show, The Panther Report on WLSH, which deals with the positive happenings in the Panther Valley School District and works for WMGH/WLSH radio as a board operator.

He participated in the Times News Citizen Bee in 2010 and is a former writer for the Times News Young Voices page.

After graduation, he plans to attend college and major in broadcast communications.

Owens became interested in serving as the student representative because he believes that "it is essential to the educational process to have a link between the policy makers, being the board, and those who those policies apply to, as in the students.

"This position allows me to be a voice for the students and also keep the board up to date on what is going on with the student body," he said.

Owens will serve through the end of the school year. Board President Jeff Markovich welcomed Owens and said that he looks forward to working with him.