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Ripon High’s student voice

Blake Morrow’s goal: Being the best Blake Morrow

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Ripon High’s student voice

Ripon High’s Blake Morrow, left, breaks a smile in Jill Mortensen’s leadership class.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED January 26, 2013 2:39 a.m.

Blake Morrow’s complex schedule and list of responsibilities spawn from a simple promise he made to himself.

His vow upon entering Ripon High as a freshman: Be the best possible version of you.

“That’s been my personal belief. In a sense, I want to be the best that I can,” Morrow said. “I take a lot of pride in my school, so I do what I can to give back to it and help out the future classes that are going to come through here.”

Nearly three years later, Morrow has maxed out his potential. The 16-year-old has become the official voice of the Ripon High student body, with a hand in virtually all of its successes.

“Blake is an amazing young man with high achieving skills and academic goals,” Ripon High Leadership teacher Jill Mortensen wrote in an e-mail to The Bulletin. “He is a very intelligent student and has a fun sense of humor. He is a growing leader aiming to be the ASB president next year…”

It’s a logical next step for a student with Morrow’s credentials.

He is the rally commissioner, dawning the customary head dress and outfit of the school mascot. He is an officer with the JROTC, and a member of the California Scholastic Federation, Renaissance and Block R clubs.

He earned the latter by being a two-sport athlete. In the fall, he was a lineman on the varsity football team, a historic unit that won the Trans-Valley League and finished the season 10-0. In the spring, he’ll swim.

When does he surface for air?

“I rest when I can,” he said with a chuckle. “I do my homework, go to bed, wake up and go back to school. That’s a lot of what it is.”

Oh, but there’s more.

The straight-A student (with three Advanced Placement courses) is also the student body’s representative on the Ripon Unified School District school board.

The student rep attends the monthly board meetings and is expected to reflect “student sentiment on issues that come before the board,” according to the district’s Website. His vote is taken into consideration by the board, but is not counted.

“I believe that he is a very active and engaged member of the board,” Superintendent Dr. Louise Bennicof Johnson said. “He does his prep work; he does his homework. … It’s not a small amount of homework. A board packet can be 200 pages.”

Morrow was placed there by his peers, earning the student body’s support during a rally last winter. He is the third member of Mortensen’s Leadership class to sit on the board, joining Michelle Ambrose and Ruth Waters.

“… We forget what it is like to be a kid,” board president Donna Parks wrote in an e-mail to The Bulletin. “… If we are to make decisions based on what is best for education and what is best for our students they need to be heard.”

Performance counts, says Morrow, and he takes all of his roles on campus seriously. He’s thorough and attentive in his approach, especially when it comes to his seat on the school board.

It’s in his blood.

Morrow’s father is Ripon principal Lance Morrow, and both share similar ideals and hopes for Ripon High. Simply, they want their actions today to positively impact the experience of tomorrow’s students.

As the school prepares to elect next year’s student rep, Morrow takes comfort in knowing that two major developments will ensure a better educational experience for the next wave of Ripon High students.

One, he helped place a $25 million school bond proposal on the November ballot. The bond eventually passed and will be used for new facilities in the district, among other expenditures.

And he recently participated in discussions that involved allocating money from Fund 35 to various projects on campus, including $100,000 for new technology and $250,000 for the Stouffer Field renovation.

“It’s pretty fun to know all this stuff and be like ‘Wow.’ Teachers have asked what happened there (at meetings),” Morrow said. “It’s cool to be in the loop. This is the path I want to take.”

Morrow has ambitions of attending the Air Force Academy – “it sounds fun to get that kind of background and experience,” he says – but his mantra better suits a different branch of the military.

Be all that you can be.

That’s Blake’s belief.

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