Jon Mark Beilue: As soon as a presidential handyman, now…

WT freshman Carsen Roberts faculty board member Claude

The final time I spoke to Carsen Roberts was virtually precisely 9 years in the past. I used to be satisfied that sooner or later he would turn out to be a member of Congress, a governor or a senator. By no means thoughts that he was solely 10 years previous.

Now I might add electrical engineer. And I might positively put down a faculty board member as a result of as a newly minimize 19-year-old, Roberts has been an elected faculty board member for nearly a yr.

Again on March 28, 2014, I wrote a column for the Amarillo Globe-Information on Carsen, a fourth-grader at Claude. He would quickly meet former President George W. Bush at a fundraiser in Amarillo. Bush, as the previous proprietor of the Texas Rangers, represented two of Carsen’s passions in life – presidents and baseball.

Carsen was a presidential wizard. Give him a earlier yr in historical past and he would provide the president. He memorized obscure information about presidents, knew their celebration affiliation. In the summertime of 2013, within the Dallas-Fort Price metroplex with mother and father Jeff and Aimee and older sister Kelsee for a Rangers recreation, he was the household tour information for a couple of hours as they walked across the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas.

“I do not know why,” Roberts stated of his uncommon presidential historic ardour “Enjoying a president in a second-rate present might need intrigued me. Everybody has requested me about it, however I do not know what led to it.

“For lots of people it was type of bizarre, even for me it was a bit of bizarre. Here is this little fourth grader, and he likes baseball and presidents. I used to be a bit of completely different from most children at that age.”

9 years in the past, Roberts’ grandfather paid for a desk on the fundraiser. At a non-public reception, Carsen shortly met the previous president in what he known as a “shove and go.” He was photographed and Bush signed his Ranger jersey with No. 43 – Bush’s presidential quantity.

The picture is on his bulletin board subsequent to that day’s story. The jersey hangs in a body in his bed room.

That was fairly particular for a ten yr previous. What Roberts is doing at 19 can also be fairly particular.

The summer season after Claude graduated from highschool in 2022—third in a category of 16—he was certainly one of 10 seniors to intern below Decide Larry Doss of the Seventh Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in Amarillo, the place the scholars ran a fantasy marketing campaign and wrote opinions mock authorized points. Roberts additionally labored on the marketing campaign of U.S. Rep. Ronnie Jackson (R-Amarillo).

As a freshman majoring in Electrical Engineering at West Texas A&M College, he spends 17 hours on-line. He works between 30 and 40 hours per week at a cooling tower enterprise in Amarillo, after which owns a garden service in Claude the place he’s the one worker.

That is all fairly excessive, nevertheless it’s not what units Roberts aside. Final Might, Roberts turned the youngest faculty board member in Texas when he was elected as a write-in candidate for the Claude Unbiased Faculty District Board of Trustees.

As Roberts would know, no president, from Washington to Biden, has ever accomplished that.

“So there have been a few issues,” Roberts stated of him pursuing one of many two open spots. “One was how our superintendent (Brock Cartwright) left and no one actually knew why the board fired him. I beloved it and wished to assist ease the tensions on the board from it.

“The opposite was at school for the final 13 years and perhaps recent data that I may convey to the boardroom that the others could not.”

Too younger to formally testify

Photograph: Carsen Roberts has taken the weird step of placing up indicators for his race to hitch the Claude Unbiased Faculty Board in 2022.

As of February 2020, Roberts, at age 17, was too younger to use for the varsity board. With a March birthday, she would have been 18 on the Might 7 election. So he determined to run for registration. A full beard makes him look older, perhaps 20, 21 years previous.

Roberts first needed to persuade quite a lot of that this was no joke. Then he took the weird step at a small-town faculty board election, placing up 100 yard indicators – “Integrity, Transparency, Dedication, Management” – in addition to some giant banners. He additionally had flyers and stunned some folks by knocking on doorways.

“Lots of people stated they’ve by no means had anybody come to their door for the varsity board,” he stated.

5 ran for 2 open spots. Roberts was the primary vote-getter with 158 votes. The highest three have been separated by lower than 20 votes.

Roberts was elected on Might 7, 2022. For 3 odd weeks, he was not solely a senior in highschool, but additionally a member of the varsity board. Roll this nugget in your head. This could a minimum of give him speedy confidence in Claude’s command.

To make it a bit of extra fascinating—okay, much more—his mom and sister each train third grade at Claude. As tempting as it’s, Carsen hasn’t used the place for some further favors at house.

He must be cautious what faculty work he can reveal round them. Throughout month-to-month board conferences, he should be excused from any potential battle of curiosity, similar to discussing contracts.

In early March, he spoke on the Texas Affiliation of Faculty Boards convention in Galveston for a really apparent purpose of the state’s latest board member’s perspective.

“It was fairly spectacular,” Roberts stated. “There are loads of issues you do not even take into consideration till you get on the board. Issues are way more sophisticated than you suppose they’re from the surface. It was an enormous studying expertise.”

Claude ISD’s challenges usually are not a lot completely different than different districts. Roberts factors to funding. Academics are paid on the state base, which makes it tougher to compete with some districts.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to push for vouchers, property tax cash for public schooling for use for college kids to attend personal faculties. That is changing into an more and more sizzling subject.

“It could significantly harm small faculties and actually any faculty district,” Roberts stated. “Public schooling is the spine of Texas.”

This can be a battle for the Texas state legislature, a spot Roberts may sooner or later discover himself. Finding out at WT adopted a household custom. His mom, grandmother and sister all attended WT. His mother and father strongly inspired him to not main in political science as a result of if he determined to not pursue politics, then what? Jeff, his father, works at Pantex.

“They instructed me to get one thing helpful and get out of there,” Roberts stated. “I’ll have choices after I graduate. You possibly can go into politics from any diploma.”

“My dad tells me how Pantex is hiring engineers left and proper. It is good to have choices. Nonetheless, ideally, I wish to get into politics and assist greater than Claude’s folks.”

Being the self-taught presidential historian that he’s, may Carsen Roberts maybe be No. 53 in 2054? Possibly a bit far-fetched, however then once more so is being elected to the varsity board at age 18.

Prime picture: Carsen Roberts is sworn in after being elected on Might 7, 2022 to the Claude Unbiased Faculty District faculty board. He’s the youngest faculty board member in Texas.

Know of a scholar, college member, challenge, alumnus or every other story concepts for “WT: The Coronary heart and Soul of the Texas Panhandle?” In that case, e-mail Jon Mark Beilue at .

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