January , 2019

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High school students invited to provide perspective on state education issues 

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) seeks high school students to share their input on state education issues as part of its Student Advisory Council (SAC). Students who will start the upcoming school year as a sophomore, junior, or senior in an Illinois public high school are eligible to apply for one of 12 open spots by May 27.

“ISBE’s Student Advisory Council creates greater opportunities for deepening students’ relationships with educators and school leaders and helps students feel personally invested in their school communities,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The Board is grateful for the talent, experience, and thoughtful input these extraordinary young people bring to our discussions each year.”

The SAC, which was established in 1975, represents a diverse group of students who work with the State Board and State Superintendent to provide student perspectives on ISBE’s existing and proposed programs, policies, and regulations. Applicants undergo a competitive review process that looks for strong interpersonal skills and the ability to think creatively, work well in groups, and develop innovative solutions.

“Being a member of the Student Advisory Council is like being the link between my classmates, my school, and my state. I get the chance to tell board members about what is working and what is not,” said Seetha Aribindi, a member of this year’s council and a junior at Hinsdale Central High School. “With this council, we improve our education system together. It is refreshing to see that the members of the Board truly value our opinions.”

2016-17 SACWho: Illinois public high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors serve on ISBE’s Student Advisory Council.Deadline to apply: 5 p.m., May 27. Applications are available online. For questions: Candidates can contact Vincent Camille at vcamille@isbe.net or (217) 782-5396. Each year, SAC members select a year-long research project and present their findings and recommendations to the State Board. This school year’s council focused on the importance of students’ feedback in efforts to improve teacher quality and build a more collaborative school community. On March 16, the Board heard the SAC’s presentation and approved its recommendation to pursue ways to increase the level of communication between students and teachers and school leaders.

“We worked as a team, we pursued our goals, and we did not let any difference in opinion distract us,” said SAC member Alex Palacios, a senior at Kankakee High School. “This council is one of a kind – it offers new experiences and new friendships that would have never existed had I not joined this group.”

One of the ways the SAC aims to incorporate more student voice is to expand the council’s interaction with the Board during the school year. Typically, the SAC meets once a month and attends two Board meetings over the course of the year. For the 2016-17 school year, the SAC aims to have three members present at each Board meeting from September through March to answer Board members’ questions on particular issues and provide reports on long-term questions asked of the council.

The following four SAC members plan to return to the council next year:


School City Grade
Seetha Aribindi Hinsdale Central High School Willowbrook Junior

Bridget Harris

Belvidere North High School Belvidere Sophomore
Kathleen Rock Byron High School Byron Sophomore

Hannah Sunderland

Knoxville High School Dahinda Junior

The following 12 members are graduating seniors:

Name School City

George Baker

East St. Louis High School East St. Louis
Niquan Dawson J. Sterling Morton High School Berwyn
Christopher Kim Northside College Prep Chicago
Haydn Lambert Monticello High School White Heath
Mackenzie Flynn Stillman Valley High School

Stillman Valley

Colleen Madden Carlinville High School Carlinville

Xiao Mei

Jones College Prep Chicago
Nicole Marcus Naperville North High School Naperville

Sally Nijim

Willowbrook High School

Villa Park

Alexander Palacios Kankakee High School Kankakee

Hayley Palmer

Carlyle High School


Travis Whitt

Altamont High School


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