Meet the Candidates: Sarah Stone, Zach Achin and Aaron Whirl

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From left. Sarah Stone, Aaron Whirl and Zack Achin
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North Attleborough’s Town Election takes place on Tuesday, April 4, with polls at the high school open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. There are two open seats on the School Committee and in this posting, you’ll meet three of the six candidates.

Sarah Stone-Candidate for School Committee

Please list any experience on other boards, committees or organizations.

  • 2022 to current: Co-Chair of the NA Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC)
  • 2022 to current: NA Pride Festival Committee Member
  • 2021 to current: NA Farmers Market Committee Member
  • 2021: Community Hero Award, Laughing Shield Comic Shop
  • 2021 to current: Co-Founder of the NA Food Access Collaborative
  • 2020 to current: NA School Committee Member
  • 2020 to current: Co-Founder & President of Our Open Umbrella Inc.
  • 2020: Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award, North Attleboro/Plainville Rotary Club
  • 2019-2023: Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Fuel for the Weekend Program
  • 2019-2020: Community School PTO Board member
  • 2018-2019: Representative Town Meeting (RTM)
  • 2018: Reconfiguration & Consolidation Task Force Member
  • 2017-2019: PTO President, Early Learning Center

Why are you running for this position? 

After three years on the current School Committee, as well as my nonprofit work with Our Open Umbrella and the Fuel for the Weekend Program, much of my time is focused on how I can help support the needs of children in this community. Impacting the lives of kids both educationally and in terms of food and clothing security is not only fulfilling personally, but I know it has made our district and community even stronger. I hope to continue my work on the School Committee and ask for your vote on April 4.

If elected, what issues would you like to focus on? 

If elected, I’d like to continue the work that has already been started. I’ll advocate for authentic hands-on learning experiences and opportunities for students, like the new NAHS Innovation Pathways program. I will ensure that we’re providing safe and secure learning environments and make sure all students have a sense of belonging within our school community. Engaging with parents and maintaining partnerships with others within our school district and community is also important in understanding our student needs.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I’m passionate about supporting the needs of children in our community and actively finding ways to support those needs. In 2019, I co-founded the Fuel for the Weekend Program to help fill the gap of food insecurity among students when they were not receiving food at school. In 2020, recognizing the growing need, I helped co-found the local nonprofit, Our Open Umbrella, to further support the needs of children. With 1 in 4 children residing in low-income homes in NA, OOU is currently developing a clothing program to help fight clothing insecurity among students in our community.

What are some areas that the town has improved upon and what, in your opinion, remains to be done? 

Two important areas that have been improved include safety and security training and ensuring a transparent budget accessible to all in the community. The School Committee in partnership with the School Department have ensured our staff and students are receiving high-level safety and security training through collaborations with top-notch security firms. Additionally, a tremendous amount of work has been done to provide a very accurate and transparent school budget accessible to all community members. While we are making many positive improvements, there is still work to be done, especially with our facilities and improving the learning environments for our students.

Being part of a board requires one to be a team player. Does your background lend you to working well in this environment?

As president of Our Open Umbrella over the last few years, I’ve collaborated with many different people and organizations for the betterment of our community. I believe collaborating with others, listening to different perspectives, and finding ways to make our community stronger is what makes North Attleborough a great place to raise a family and live. As a current School Committee member, I think it’s important to not only seek out those collaborations but also have a willingness to listen to others opinions, consider their experiences, both positive and negative, and come up with productive solutions.

 

 

Zach Achin—Candidate for School Committee

Please list any experience on other boards, committees or organizations. N/A

Why are you running for this position? 

I believe our schools need a new voice to advocate for them. Growing up in town there was a sense of community pride that was tied to the school system. Now, I hear families voicing concerns on deaf ears and watching kids opt out of public school. When families opt out, it directly effects state funding which can be devastating to a school’s budget. I believe I can help come up with financially responsible solutions to better our school buildings. I’m also willing to voice concerns to our superintendent in hopes of creating a school system that families want to be part of.

If elected, what issues would you like to focus on? 

If elected I would focus on creating a better physical and emotional environment for the students and teachers. I would do this by working with the other members to find financially responsible ways to upgrade our schools. I would also bring my concerns with the school’s culture to the School Committee and inevitably the superintendent. I would like to get our schools to a point where people in town feel a sense of pride and don’t feel like they have to go somewhere else for their children’s education.

What sets you apart from other candidates?   

If elected I will bring a skillset that I’ve developed working within commercial construction. Although I haven’t been on a School Committee before I am very comfortable digging through financial paperwork and setting up realistic budgets. I’ve overseen millions of dollars of projects and have completed countless labor/material projected budgets and followed them throughout a project. I’ll also bring a willingness to speak up for our teachers and students if they aren’t being supported adequately. I’m comfortable having uncomfortable conversations and will bring my concerns to our superintendent if warranted.

What are some areas that the town has improved upon and what, in your opinion, remains to be done?

Although some of my responses above can seem negative, I do believe North schools have done great things. My wife is from Florida and a main reason why we decided to live in North was the school system. We have great teachers that have been pillars of the community for decades. With that being said I believe we need to keep up with the times and have updated buildings so students can focus on learning. We also need to create a work environment so qualified candidates choose North over other schools.

Being part of a board requires one to be a team player. Does your background lend you to working well in this environment? 

Growing up I loved the team aspect of sports. In college I used my ability to work well in groups to graduate part of the national civil engineering honor society. Currently I’m a commercial construction project manager. Every day I work with architects/engineers, general contractors, field personnel, suppliers, etc. to complete a project on time and budget. Over the last 10+ years my success in work is directly linked to my ability to work well within a team. I’m able to recognize when others are more qualified to handle a task and willing to put in the work when needed.

 

 

 

Aaron Whirl—Candidate for School Committee

Why are you running for this position?

I have two daughters in the North Attleborough school system, so I have a personal interest in insuring that they are getting the education necessary to prepare them for a successful life after school. I also want to help provide transparency to the rest of the parents in our community regarding how funds are spent, and more importantly what curriculum and materials are provided to our children K-12, so that as parents we can either be reassured the school system is doing the best for our children, or get involved to voice any concerns and change direction.

If elected, what issues would you like to focus on?

I want to evaluate and help shape the North Attleborough Public Schools Strategic Plan. First and foremost, I would like to get involved in the curriculum review cycle, to ensure that our schools and teachers are focusing on subjects that will build strong, proud, self-reliant, free-thinking young adults. I will provide parents with any information I can to help influence minimizing and/or removing content that promotes weakness, victim culture, or the sexualization of our children. Secondly, I want to support financial decisions that will improve and increase our student’s resources, including facility upgrades, as well as teachers’ salaries.

What sets you apart from other candidates?

I have been attending School Committee meetings over the past year.

What are some areas that the town has improved upon and what, in your opinion, remains to be done?

We have a fantastic community here in North Attleborough. It’s a great small-town feel, with a lot to offer. I love our local businesses, and our community activities like the block party, the farmers market, and the Christmas parade. My wife and I are very happy with our schools, and I want to be part of continued growth and pride in knowing our children are safe and getting the best possible education.  We need to improve our per-pupil-expenditures out of the bottom-of-the-state ranks, to continually support and improve our teachers and staff, facilities, and ultimately our students.

Being part of a board requires one to be a team player. Does your background lend you to working well in this environment? 

In my supply chain career, I work cross-functionally with members of finance and operations, engineering, quality and compliance, etc. in our organization to move projects forward and meet defined goals as a team. In my past I helped as a soccer coach, herding kindergartners on one of my daughter’s first teams.  Well before that, in college years, I served in our dorm’s senate, and was Facilities Committee Chair for my professional association’s annual career fair. Over the years, I have demonstrated the ability to be a team player, while strong enough to influence and push for decisions that make sense.