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Tribute to Avneet Pannu

Our retiring Student School Board member, Avneet Pannu, is a first-generation immigrant with a unique perspective. She posseses a keen mind, a gentle spirit, and a genuine desire to serve.

At the end of her sophomore year, Avneet made the decision to apply for an open two-year position on the School Board, writing in her application that her motivation for doing so was to make a positive impact on her community and to help solve problems plaguing some young people. Among the half dozen exceptional candidates who sat for interviews, Avneet won the hearts of Board members with her perceptive insights into the plight of traditionally marginalized students and her quiet conviction that our school district could do more to support them.

When asked what strengths or skills she would bring to a position on the School Board, she promised to offer kindness, generosity, passion, motivation, and hard work. And she has kept her promise.

Avneet’s leadership has extended beyond her role on the School Board. During her junior year, she worked with one of the high school assistant principals to plan our district’s first-ever Desi Party aimed at bringing together and celebrating the members of our school community whose roots are in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Afghanistan, and Bhutan. All 150+ Ferndale School District South Asian families were invited, along with members of the District Administrative Team and School Board, to the event, which would have included a catered Indian dinner, a few words from Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, and some special entertainment. The verb tense is “would have included” instead of “did include,” since the Governor’s announcement to close all in-person learning and activities in Washington Schools due to the pandemic came on the very day the Desi event was scheduled to occur.

As a junior, Avneet also threw in her support with a group of students intent on raising awareness about mental health issues, an initiative that began with an all-school assembly and resulted in the formation of the MESS Club, which stands for “Mental Emergencies Support Services.” The mission of the club is to educate students about mental health issues and make resources for addressing them more accessible.

Beyond the school district, Avneet studies Sikhism to deepen her faith and volunteers in various ways in the Gurdwara, the place where Sikhs come together for congregational worship. She is truly a dedicated learner, but, more importantly, she has demonstrated the power of turning education into positive action within her community. 

As all of this suggests, Avneet is a positive and hopeful reflection on her generation. We thank her for her service and wish her all the best as she moves into the next leg of her journey.