MARIENVILLE, Pa. – Jarrett Kahle is your typical high school senior.
(Photo: East Forest senior Jarret Kahle is running for school board as a high school senior. Kahle was also a multi-sport athlete for the Forest Fires playing soccer and basketball for the Forest Fires and track & field as part of a co-op with North Clarion)
The East Forest senior enjoys his classes, spending time with friends and playing sports – he is a multiple-time District 9 qualifier in track and field.
But, Kahle is anything but an ordinary high school student. He wants to run the school district in which he is currently a student.
Kahle recently decided to throw his hat in the ring for a position on the school board at Forest Area School District, which comprises of both East Forest and West Forest Schools.
“Me and one of my friends were kind of talking about it, but we weren’t seriously thinking about doing it,” Kahle said. “But, then I started thinking and was like that isn’t a bad idea. It is something I am interested in, and I went from there.”
Kahle has a pretty good shot at gaining a seat as well, as he is one of only two people from the Marienville region running for a seat with two open seats allocated to that area – former teacher Shirley Edmondson is also running in that region. So, barring a write-in campaign, Kahle should appear on the ballot in November and then become the youngest member of the school board.
The 18-year-old said being an active part of the community is important to him.
“I love being active in the community,” Kahle said. “I help lead at the local youth group, and I am part of the fire company. Anything I can do, I do. I try to do my part.”
The Kahle family is no stranger than leading in the community, his dad, Tom, was a township supervisor for approximately 26 years.
“I am used to the local viewpoint,” Kahle said. “I don’t know if it was my dad (telling me to do this). It was all my idea. But, just him being in a local political position, I am used to it. I like helping the community any way I can. This is a perfect way.”
A big question has to be what does an 18-year-old know about running a school board considering he hasn’t even taken a college class yet.
“I would point them to my parents and local adults who would attest to me being a mature 18-year-old,” Kahle said. “I still have my immaturities, but most people would consider me (mature).”
Kahle pointed to the fact that his family has owned businesses in Marienville that has given him experiences other high school seniors might not have.
“My family runs two businesses (Kahle’s Wrecker Service and a weightlifting gym),” Kahle said. “My family previously owned a gas station in the middle of town, and my grandparents had a business. I have experiences with money, payments, salaries, paying bills. I don’t know all of it, but I can grow. I know there will be a learning curve, but I think I will catch on quickly.”
In fact, Kahle believes being in the school right now would help bring a fresh perspective to the school board.
“I just think it’s a great idea to bring a young person’s perspective,” Kahle said. “It’s not like the (board members) are old, but they have been out of high school 20 or 30 years. I can bring a fresh perspective. I think that is good in any government situation.”
Kahle views the biggest challenges to the district as keeping its test scores and grades high.
“Obviously, being such a small school there is a need to have a good school and show good test results, good grades, good graduation rates,” Kahle said. “I think our school is doing an awesome job.”
Kahle believes the small size of the district could be used as a selling point for people looking to move into the area.
“I think if a family wants to move into our district, we might be a good choice,” Kahle said. “We have small class sizes, which is a good thing.”
From an athlete’s perspective, Kahle sees a challenge facing the district’s co-op team – the Forest Fires – which combines both East and West Forest students into one team.
“I believe that being an athlete, a big thing is the student-athletes traveling back and forth from East to West,” Kahle said. “It can sometimes be a struggle (to have equity in the travel between the schools). It has been both unfair and fair in the past, but it can definitely get better. I believe I can help that bringing a viewpoint of being a student-athlete.”
Kahle said that some of his teachers have joked about how he could easily be one of their bosses next year.
“We joke about it a lot,” Kahle said. “I’ve talked to a couple of my teachers. They all seem super excited. They have good faith and trust in me.”
According to Kahle, running for the school board has made him a better student.
“It has pushed me to be a better student,” Kahle said. “I want to show that I am worthy of the position.
“Just about all my teachers have said in some ways it has matured me.”
Kahle credits the teachers at East Forest for making him a person who could run for school board.
“There are a couple I could point towards,” Kahle said. “My government teacher, Mr. Hartwig, has really taught me a lot about government and politics and how serious it is and how effective it is and how important it is. Mrs. Shaftic has really pushed me to mature. She is the head of the National Honor Society, and she had really pushed me. There others as well. Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Hoover, Mr. Cradduck, they have all pushed me to grow as a person and as an adult.”
Going back to class sizes, Kahle believes his teachers have had more time to focus on individual students like himself.
“All of that really comes from having personal relationships we build with teachers because of our size,” Kahle said. “From my viewpoint, that personal relationship and bonding with the teachers weigh hand and foot over everything else.”
Kahle also credits his faith for guiding him.
“Even without running and without sports I already have a lot on my plate,” Kahle said. “Whenever I first decided (to run) I sought the Lord, and he had a lot to do with it. He told me this is what I needed to do, and he has freed up my time. I create the Lord in every single part of my life. He really makes my time work, and I am really appreciative of that.”
Kahle believes his time spent in athletics – he also played soccer and basketball – has taught him valuable lessons.
“What I have gained in sports is I have grown a lot of relationships,” Kahle said. “I have learned a lot of things from sports. Probably the most important thing I learned and have taken from it is discipline. To be accomplished, you have to work out, watch your food intake, do so many things to be healthy, just to be competitive. Where that travels to running for a position like this, is it has taught me to be on time and know what I am talking about. It has taught me to read materials and to go into a meeting knowing what I am talking about, know the facts that I need to know. It’s not exactly the same as (sports), but there are things that are very similar.”
According to Kahle, he wasn’t sure how people would react in the community to him running for school board, but he has gotten a lot of positive feedback.
“A lot of people are excited about it,” Kahle said. “I expected a lot of people to say it wasn’t a good idea. But I don’t think there has been much if any negativity. Everyone is super excited to get a young person in and that a young person is interested in politics and in our community.”
Kahle plans to attend Grove City College in the fall and major in Social work. He said if he is elected to the school board, he will travel back to town for meetings and other events.
“I like helping people,” Kahle said when asked why he chose Social Work as a major. “That degree definitely fits me.”
Kahle said he doesn’t plan on playing sports in college.
“I want to change my focus on life,” Kahle said. “I have focused on sports a lot the last four, five or six years. I’m seeking the Lord and growing my ministry and want to live life to glorify his name. Grove City is an awesome college which can also grow you in the Lord. I think it is a perfect fit for me. I am excited.”