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Drakos seated at school board table

September 22, 2010 - As Kelly Weaver pointed out at the last school board meeting, she's not the newcomer anymore. The board picked Weaver to fill Bill Walter's vacant seat earlier this summer.

Steve Drakos will fill the vacant school board seat. Photo by Megan Collier (click for larger version)
But Sept. 15, Lake Orion resident Steve Drakos became the newest board member. Drakos was among four who tried for the seat left empty by Tina Peterson. Peterson resigned in August because she was moving out of Lake Orion and closer to her workplace.

Drakos is a Lake Orion High School alumnus and local attorney who moved back to LO from Oxford with his wife and their young twin boys four years ago.

The new parent said "I'm looking forward to being directly involved with our schools," and notes he's been very involved in the community.

He's been involved in probono programs with Judge Lisa Asadoorian, and alongside Judge Julie Nicholson, Drakos helped start the Court in the Schools program in 1995.

"I'm proud to say that's an active program that many judges throughout the state are taking up," he said.

While living in Oxford, Drakos served on their school board. Now back in Lake Orion, he said, "I love my community… I look forward to participating as a board member for the betterment of education… My goals are to work quietly in the beginning; you have a lot to learn as a new board member. A good board member knows how to listen to the community, teachers, administration, and to learn from that experience."

Drakos says the role of a school boardmember is to listen carefully but not be afraid to speak up when it's not to his satisfaction, and having a good working relationship with administrators, staff and parents.

With the coming bond issue (see page 1) he says boardmembers will have to respect different opinions, but ultimately pick one side or the other and defend their position, as the bond will be one of the biggest obstacles facing the district.

"As a boardmember in Oxford in 1999, it's a decision we faced, and it's a difficult process to pass. Whether you're for it or against it, you need to take the time to educate your voters," he said, adding "My biggest challenge, personally, is that my children have a great education in Lake Orion. As a Dragon, I'm proud to see where we're at; that's easy to say for any school alumni, but truly, it takes a lot of work to maintain what we have here, and it's really easy to lose that."

Molding a productive member of society doesn't start in high school or in the court system, says Drakos.

In the area of improving the district, Drakos says the district should rouse parents to help in the community to get involved in charitable organizations or non-profit efforts.

"For example, as an attorney, when there's community service to be performed by a client, I try to direct them to the Lions Club or a local church, or else they might go elsewhere, like Warren or Pontiac, and while it's well-needed there, I'd rather steer them to my community. We can do the same thing as a district."

The district could also encourage parents to spend money in local businesses and restaurants.

"They're the boosters and sports sponsors… I think we can tap into that a little bit more," he said.

In gaining the school board seat, Drakos beat out Joe Knight, Terry Lang and Denise Mitchell. Lang and Mitchell both applied for the vacant position earlier this summer.

Joe Knight (click for larger version)
Knight worked in manufacturing for 25 years. He's been married for 27 years and lived in Lake Orion for 15. He's got five children, and two are LOHS grads. Knight served on the district's strategic planning student achievement committee.

Terry Lang (click for larger version)
This was Lang's third attempt at getting on the board, including his application when Bill Walters retired. He is a 1985 LO grad and his parents were both students at what's now the Ehman center. Lang has four children, three who go to Lake Orion schools. He's worked for 15 years in operations management. He says he's been involved extensively in the schools at the classroom level.

Denise Mitchell (click for larger version)
Mitchell achieved much in higher education and worked at Ford Motor Company for 31 years. She says since she retired a year and a half ago, she's gotten more involved in the community, including serving on committees in the school district and attending meetings. She's one of the founders of Lake Orion Community Schools Involved Citizens. This year, her daughter will graduate from LOHS.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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