Q&A with Alfredo Praticò, Student Board Representative
Alfredo is very active in his school and in his community. He is on Masterman’s School Advisory Council, the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, City-Wide Student Government, Philadelphia Youth Commission, All-City Orchestra, YoYo Club at Clemente Rec Center, and is an Alter Server at St. Andrew’s Church. We sat down with Alfredo to learn more about what he feels will make him a strong student representative.
Q: What interested you in the Student Board Representative position?
A: While the SRC was governing the District students were never directly involved in decision making. When I saw the application I saw it as an opportunity for over 200,000 students to finally have a voice. After all, we, the students spend most of our time in our schools and are directly impacted by decisions of the School Board.
Q: What particular strengths do you believe that you will bring to the Student Board Representative position?
A: Since middle school I’ve been involved with student government and representative positions because I believe it is important to speak up and respectfully voice opinions. I think I have learned that the best representatives listen first and then talks. As a representative it is most important that you represent other points of view and not just your own. I am committed to finding channels where we can hear student concerns and problems. Being only 2 out of 200,000 students means that we have big job ahead and many challenges, but we must get as much feedback as possible. A strength of mine is both understanding that all points of view are valuable even if they are not my points of view. If what I see is different from what someone else sees then it is important for me to consider why and how they have their perspective. I also believe there are no right and wrong opinions. Sometimes the best ideas or paths come from finding the middle ground.
Q: What value can a student voice bring to the new Board of Education?
A: Students are experiencing the policies and decisions made first hand; we see it for ourselves and with our peers. As Student Board Reps we have a strong understanding of life as students and we will try to make ourselves as approachable and as accessible as possible. We want students to know that there is someone their age who they can reach out to when they have concerns. We want students to know and remember that we are always here for them. We have problems but we also have ideas and passion. We are ready and open to new paths.
Q: Being a senior and taking on this opportunity in addition to your classes and other activities is going to be a lot of work. What are some tips and tricks that you use to balance everything?
A: I make sure that I have everything written down in an agenda or on a calendar somewhere. I always want to make sure I have a clean list so that I know exactly where I need to focus, even when it comes to things outside of school. I do things I’m passionate about, which makes whatever I’m doing a lot easier because then I really love the work.
Q: What’s the last book that you’ve read?
A: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.
Q: Who inspires you and why?
A: My parents. Both of my parents grew up with different challenges, monetary or otherwise. My father is an immigrant and came here knowing barely any English and grew up in a very small town where there was no high school so he had to move in with his grandmother many miles away to get an education. He worked hard and broke through barriers.
My mother was a first generation college student from a working class family, she attended a university where she was around a lot of people that had different backgrounds and that were much more privileged than her own. It was difficult for her, but she learned a lot about persistence. She is really driven, creative, and has a great perspective. She respects that I am my own person and wants me to find whatever path makes me happy. I am lucky to have two parents who will always be there for me and I can trust even if we don’t always agree.
Q: If you had the influence and resources to initiate any change (big or small) within our city, what would it be?
A: Education. I would give all of my resources to the School District and the students. I believe that if you have a generation that has plenty of opportunities and a lot of support, they can change everything else. I would also love to improve SEPTA and public transit because where public transit goes businesses grow and the quality of life and opportunities improve.
Q: You’re stranded on an island and you can only bring three items with you. What are they?
A: A bag of cactus seeds because I need food, water purification tablets, and a ham radio so I can stay in contact with the world.