High school senior voted into Boise School Board

Shiva Rajhbandari is balancing his roles as a high school student-athlete, youth activist and serving his community. Rajhbandari, a Boise high school senior and a climate and gun-control activist — who turned 18 just days before the election — won a spot on the Boise School District Board of Trustees on Sept. 12.
Last month, Rajhbandari won by 56.4%, 2,500 votes over incumbent Steve Schmidt.
Rajhbandari ran for school board with the hopes of prioritizing issues surrounding mental health and the climate crisis. The Idaho teen said he felt inspired to run for his local school board after learning about communities very singular to Boise that had made commitments to sustainability. The difference was that they had students on the school board, he said.
In an interview with The Bengal’s Purr Rajhbandari explained why he ran for office.
“Students deserve a voice everywhere, but particularly when decisions are being made on our education,” he said. “We are our primary stakeholders and have valuable perspectives. I ran to show what students can bring to the table.”
Rajhbandari’s campaign was about representation and the valuable perspectives that students have.
He told Teen Vogue, “I’m a third-generation Idahoan on my mom’s side and my dad is from Nepal. I’m the only person of color on the school board.”
When The Guardian asked him if he felt like he and his peers were being taken seriously he responded: “It was frustrating because it just felt like we weren’t getting the time of day from our school board members. In the fall last year, I sent a letter to our school board president detailing our efforts and asking him for a meeting. . . And so by the end of that meeting, I knew I wanted to run for the school board.”
For the average person envisioning an 18-year-old serving on a school board, a first question might be: How does he do it?
Rajhbandari told the Purr, “Managing time is hard: keeping a Google Calendar, taking time to keep a Google Calendar . . . Just make sure you are taking time for yourself and your family.”
Rajhbandari was quick to note that youth voices matter and can make a difference in their communities.
“You can make a difference. Collectively, we as young people have so much power,” he said. “There are plenty of students that are totally qualified to run for the board.”
Rajhbandari even mentioned that a student in Lewiston should run to serve on the school board. He added that he hopes that his triumph will show that student voices are powerful, and that students can be more qualified than they are made out to be.