Westford native Derek Lo recently announced that he will be running for a position on the Westford School Committee.
Lo, who will be graduating from George Washington University in May with a degree in political science and history, hopes to serve the community he grew up in and the schools that he attended as a member of the School Committee.
As a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee since its foundation in 2020, Lo stated that he intends to use the skills that he learned and the connections that he built working with Superintendent, School Committee, and the rest of the DEI Committee and wider Westford community to “foster and maintain an inclusive and learning-based environment” in Westford Public Schools.
“I am running because our town is missing the crucial perspective of a recent alum on the School Committee,” Lo said. “Many of the issues that existed when I was there four years ago still exist today.”
Lo explained that if he were elected he could provide a unique insight to what issues need to be addressed in the schools system, as he graduated from Westford Academy just four years ago.
“I feel that I owe it to our community to give back and bring the institutional knowledge I have as someone who has been in the classroom and seen it first hand.” Lo said. “Having been out of the system for a few years, I have a broader perspective on what the Westford Public Schools have done well in preparing our students as well as what need improvement.”
Lo also believes that certain issues such as mental health and student success in the school system have been overlooked or disregarded, and he wants to make sure they are prioritized as he knows personally that they affect many students.
“I will be the one who says ‘it is not enough’ to simply check off boxes to address our concerns, rather we need to look more in depth not only when it comes to addressing mental health and student success, but also ensure that there is sustainable focus on these areas in the long run,” Lo said.
One major change that Lo would like to implement in Westford Public Schools would be a greater emphasis from school administrators and faculty on other post-graduation options for students besides four-year college.
“We need to redefine what path we are inherently pushing our students towards. The focus cannot simply be about getting students ready for four-year college,” Lo said. “We need to highlight the much broader array of options, like community college, starting a business, duel enrollment, serving our country in uniform, and vocational programs. These paths are all honorable, and are ones that should be highlighted more.”
Another major issue Lo plans to address is diversity, equity, and inclusion in Westford Public Schools. This is an area that he believes he is well versed as he not only was part of the DEI Committee, but also experienced many of the issues surrounding this topic first hand.
“As a proud Asian-American and son of immigrants, I understand the struggle many face when it comes to understanding cultural norms in our community, and feeling included.” Lo said. “I remember wondering why I barely saw Asian-Americans like myself in the history or literature we were reading.”
Lo explained that he wants Westford Public Schools to be a community where equal representation of different students regardless of their racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious or socioeconomic background is one of the main priorities of the school administration and faculty members.
“Lets work together to change that, because if students like myself and those today do not feel the best represented in the classroom, we are failing to build confidence and an inclusive environment for them to grow and thrive,” Lo said.
Lo hopes that if elected he may use his institutional knowledge and past experiences attending Westford Public Schools to become a well-versed community leader as a member of the School Board, who members of the Westford Community can trust and put their support behind.
“I am ready to continue to give back to the community we all love” Lo said, “and I am ready to bring a missing perspective of a recent alum to the School Committee, and I humbly ask for your vote.”