Illinois State Board of Education seats new members of the Student Advisory Council

Fifteen high schoolers from across the state chosen to represent student interests


Springfield, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced the selection of 15 high school students from across the state to serve on the Student Advisory Council (SAC), which brings student concerns to the attention of ISBE. This year’s SAC members are meeting for the first time Oct. 18-19 in Springfield.

“These outstanding students will represent their peers by providing an essential perspective on education,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “We are honored to work with these young leaders as we continue our mission to provide every child in Illinois the tools to succeed in college and careers.’’

The Student Advisory Council represents a diverse group of students from across Illinois who have demonstrated a strong work ethic, the ability to think creatively and work well in groups. Eligibility for the Student Advisory Council, which was established in 1975, is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors attending a public high school in Illinois.

The SAC members represent student concerns and can provide thoughts on ISBE’s existing and proposed programs, policies and regulations. The student members also choose a special project to research and present before the Board at the end of the school year.

For the 2011-12 schoolyear, five students are returning to the Student Advisory Council, and 10 new students were selected through a competitive application and review process. A formal introduction of this year’s members will be held Wednesday, Oct. 19, at a State Board of Education committee meeting.
 The 10 new members of the Student Advisory Council are:

Emily Chesser, senior, Williamsville High School in Williamsville: At WHS, Emily has been active in band, Youth and Government, STAND tutoring, basketball and cross country. As a National Honor Society member, she is vice president and has volunteered for a variety of events, including the Williamsville Teen Food and Gift Drive. In addition, Emily represented WHS at the 2011 Menard Electric Student Leadership Conference at Northwestern University, played French horn for the Sangamon Valley Youth Symphony and for the Springfield Muni and is a member of the Springfield Triathlon Team. She also has participated in service projects on the Galapagos Islands, in the Amazon Rain Forest in Ecuador and the Dain Tree Rain Forest in Australia.  Emily is the 18-year-old daughter of Tom and Bette Chesser of Sherman. 

Austin Evans, senior, Lovington High School in Lovington: Austin has served as student council vice president and president, as class president twice, Spanish Club president twice and as National Honor Society treasurer. Other groups and organizations that Austin participates in are the Eco-Meet Team, the Rube Goldberg Physics Team, Scholastic Bowl and the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering team. In addition, Austin volunteers at Lovington Public Library, teaching community members about computers and other electronic devices. He plans on entering college as a pre-medicine major. Austin is the 17-year-old son of Jadon and RoseMary Evans of Lovington.

Kristin Ishmael, junior, Litchfield High School in Litchfield: Kristin is involved with numerous extracurricular activities, including the Rembrandt Society, chorus, the drama club and Scholastic Bowl. She currently is president of the student council, class president and secretary of Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD). After graduating high school, she hopes to attend the University of Notre Dame to major in pre-medicine and eventually become a surgeon. Kristin is the 16-year-old daughter of Tim and Binky Ishmael.

Aaron Jackson, senior, Grayslake Central High School in Grayslake: Aaron is a member of the debate team, basketball team, tennis team, National Honor Society, the school’s literacy magazine (Inkblots), Brothers and Sisters United and student government. He has been nominated for class president for four years and was a first-place speaker at last year’s ICDA State Debate Invitational at Northern Illinois University. Aaron also participated in the 2009 People to People Leadership Summit at Harvard University and the 2011 Illinois Boys State Summit at Eastern Illinois University. He has also volunteered in his community through youth tennis camps, debate workshops and has helped organize events such as the Race Against Racism 5K run. Aaron plans to major in political science with an education minor. He is the 17-year-old son of Eric Jackson and Cheryl Hudson-Jackson of Grayslake.

Cameron Jodlowski, junior, Olympia High School in Stanford: Cameron, 17, is a member of the student council, Science Club, Junior Class Board and the Olympia FFA chapter at Olympia High School. He is also president of 4-H Club, a member of the Logan County 4-H federation and is active in Boy Scouts. In his free time, Cameron enjoys working with his dairy goats, which have been recognized at a national level, and working at a veterinary clinic. He plans to study animal science in college. Cameron is the son of Ed and Colleen Jodlowski of Atlanta, Ill.

Paige Logan, junior, Altamont High School in Altamont: Paige is a member of student council and the IL 4-H Youth Leadership Team, speaking for IL 4-H and the Effingham County 4-H Youth Ambassadors. Paige took a stand against bullying in schools by writing a $10,000 grant to teach youth leadership skills in her community. She now speaks about her experience with bullying and cyberbullying to raise awareness. She also received an invitation to speak at the National Bullying Summit in Washington, D.C., and was selected to serve on The Great American NO BULL Challenge, an anti-bullying project. Paige is the 16-year-old daughter of Mike and Patti Logan of Altamont.

Neshal Patel, senior, Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville: Neshal was elected to be the lieutenant governor of Midwest Junior State of America, overlooking the work of more than 100 chapters and 1,000 members. He is also his school’s Model U.N. president, a varsity member on Science Olympiad and a member of the Math Team and Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering. In addition, Neshal has been involved in several different political campaigns, is a student representative on the Naperville City Council and is a regional director for Illinois High School Democrats. After graduation, he hopes to major in political science with the goal of becoming a lawyer. Neshal is the 17-year-old son of Nipul and Binjan Patel of Naperville. 

Sarah Reising-Rechner, senior, Athens Senior High School in Athens: Sarah is involved in many school and extracurricular activities, including FFA, National Honor Society, Leadership Committee and the Illinois High School Rodeo Association. Last year in High School Rodeo, she placed eighth in the state. Sarah also volunteers for church and community events. She plans to further her education in the field of agriculture. Sarah is the 17-year-old daughter of Pamela and Craig Rechner.

Andrew Van Treeck, senior, Batavia Senior High School in Batavia: Andrew is serving his second year of his term as student ambassador to the  Batavia School Board. He is also an athlete, playing basketball and baseball his freshman and sophomore years and earning a varsity letter as a triple jumper on the track team his junior year. In addition, he is a member of National Honor Society and Political Debate Club. Outside of school, Andrew tutors students, provides pitching lessons and teaches piano. He also performs piano at local venues, teaching himself famous piano tunes in his free time. Andrew plans to study economics and political science in college. He is the 17-year-old son of Michael and Pamela Van Treeck.

Jolie-Grace Wareham, junior, Glenbard East High School in Lombard: Jolie-Grace is a bassist in the orchestra, jazz band, jazz strings ensemble and string quintet at Glenbard East High. She is also a member of her school’s Mock Trial team, student council, the Principal’s Advisory Council, and New Beginnings, a club to aid transfer students. Outside of school, Jolie-Grace participates in her church’s youth group, serves on her town’s Economic and Community Development Committee and teaches string bass. In addition, Jolie-Grace is a member of The Peace Alliance and has done work with the Department of Peace Act. She hopes to have careers in both politics and the music industry. Jolie-Grace is the 16-year-old daughter of Jim and Karen Wareham.

The five returning members of the Student Advisory Council are:

Abhinav Brahmamdam, senior, Springfield High School in Springfield:

As a senior at Springfield High School, Abhinav is involved in various school activities. He played basketball, football and plans on playing tennis this year. He represents his school as an officer on student council and is vice president of the Class of 2012. He is also a member of Spanish Club, Junior Statesmen of America, the National Honor Society and many other school clubs. In addition, Abhinav volunteers for a variety of non-profit and charitable organizations. He plans on majoring in business administration and pre-medicine with the goal of becoming a hospital administrator. Abhinav is the 17-year-old son of Krishna and Lakshmi Brahmamdam of Springfield.

Myles Gearon, senior, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago: Myles is a senior this fall at Walter Payton College Prep, where he participates in band, the swim team and volleyball. He is also working on founding a branch of the Secular Student Alliance and volunteers as a tutor in his school’s math department and in the Open Books literacy program. Myles, who enjoys playing cello and piano in his free time, plans to major in engineering. He is the 18-year-old son of Pamela and Kyle Gearon of Chicago.

Maisie Mahoney, senior, Oregon High School in Oregon: At Oregon High School, Maisie participates in volleyball, basketball and track, in which she has competed at the state finals for three years. She is also on the Superintendent Student Advisory Council, participates in school and community plays, and has been a member of the Rockford Youth Symphony Orchestra for the past four years as a violinist. In addition, Maisie also spends time volunteering in her community. She plans to study engineering or psychology in college. Maisie, 17, is the daughter of Oregon Community Unit School District 220 Superintendent Tom Mahoney and his wife, Angela, of Oregon.

Erin Martell, senior, Maine South High School in Park Ridge: Erin participates in volleyball and soccer at Maine South High School. She is also a an editor of her school newspaper, a member of the National Honor Society and was a finalist in an international writing contest. In addition, she serves on her school’s advisory council, is a club soccer player and has been a captain for all her school teams. After graduation, she plans on majoring in public policy. Erin, 18, is the daughter of John and Maryellen Martell of Park Ridge.

Conor Reilley, junior, Belvidere North High School in Belvidere: Conor, 17, is on the football, baseball, Scholastic Bowl, Science Olympiad and improvisational acting teams at BNHS. He is also the president of the student council, an editor on the school newspaper and a member of the Science National Honor Society and the Thespian Honor Society. Conor enjoys playing the piano and reading in his spare time. He is the son of Shawn and Kerry Reilley of Belvidere.