BOE student rep takes aim at teen mental health


CNMI State Board of Education student representative Pionnah Rosej Gregorio, fifth left, joins her parents and other education officials after being sworn in yesterday at the BOE office on Capital Hill. (Jon Perez)

CNMI State Board of Education student representative Pionnah Rosej Gregorio believes mental health issues of teenagers should be addressed with a support group composed of her peers and the guidance of adults in the community.

“It needs to be addressed. It needs to be discussed and talked about inside the classrooms,” Gregorio told Saipan Tribune in yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony at the BOE office’s conference room on Capital Hill.

Gregorio, an incoming senior at Marianas High School, will be representing the more than 10,000 incoming students in the elementary, and junior and senior high schools throughout the Commonwealth.

She plans to have the issue on the agenda of a student summit that she plans to organize with the other leaders of schools in the CNMI. “We’re going to plan a big summit where students will be involved and I want that issue to be addressed.”

Planning to address the mental health issues of her fellow teens is close to Gregorio’s heart—she plans to take up psychology as one of the three career options when she pursues a college degree after graduating next year.

The CNMI was rocked by two incidents of teenagers taking their lives and Gregorio knows it is a sensitive issue that also needs to be addressed. “It is not going to be hidden anymore. “For the rest of the school year, it needs to be brought up.”

“If possible, there should be a club or committee for that to address this issue—a committee that would handle the issue where students can talk about their feelings and what they’re going through.”

She wants her fellow students to feel that they are not alone. “I want students to feel that they have a support group, that there’s somebody there for them, a support system [in place].”

Student summit

Gregorio wants the student summit to be held at the beginning of the school year since that is when morale is high, as many of her peers are both excited and optimistic for the school year.

“I want to be their student leader and at the same time we want to talk about the planned activities for the students and to work with other people. I want it at the beginning, not the middle or latter part of the school year,” said Gregorio. “I want the students to be motivated for the rest of the school year. Maybe, educate them about events like the Close Up and [the Junior State of America] so that students are aware of these programs and the opportunities that are around them.”

She added that she would go to all schools to meet with the different student councils on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. “There’s going to be three different meetings on Saipan—Kagman, Marianas, and Saipan Southern high schools.”

“I want to talk to them and really want their voices to be heard. I want to make sure that students’ voices will be heard, that all their concerns are going to be brought up and and known to the board and other officials. That’s my main priority.”

“Even if I know that it is going to be hard to do, we could make a compromise. I’m willing to make changes in the school system and really excited for the coming school year to work with other people, the board, and the student councils.”

Political science and any degree in the field of mathematics are Gregorio’s two other options. She is looking to attend any of the campuses of the University of California or any college in the east coast, particularly in Massachusetts.

“I just recently visited [Washington] D.C. and I liked the lifestyle there. But I’m also willing to consider other states as options. Anyway, I still have to go over my plans this summer.”


BOE chair MaryLou S. Ada, vice chair Janice A. Tenorio, board member Herman T. Guerrero, teacher representative Paul Miura, and CNMI State Public School System interim commissioner Glenn Muña all look forward to working with Gregorio.

“We’re all equal here when you sit in this table. You may have no voting power but your voice is strong and we listen to each other. There are times when we argue, but that’s because were trying to resolve issues. After that, we’re all friends and family,” said Ada.

“We’re looking forward for you in being part of the team,” was Tenorio’s short message.

Guerrero told Gregorio that she’s welcome to express her views and comments on issues that would affect students like her. “You also hear from parents and bring it to the attention of the board or the commissioner. [The commissioner] is here to listen. Do not hesitate to voice your concerns during board meetings. We’re here to formulate policies and we want to hear comments from all sides. Don’t think that your voice is of no significance.”

Miura, who has been the teacher representative for almost two years, told Gregorio that everything that happens in their board meetings are intended to improve the outcome and wellbeing of students.

Muña said that Gregorio would be taking the lead for her peers in working closely with the board. “I invite you to reach out to your peers, conduct surveys, and meet with them to her their concerns.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.