Gathering input: Local students appointed to state-level council to provide education officials with student perspective

Michael Smith

Six area high school students have been appointed to an advisory board tasked with assisting education officials next year. The 104-member 2020 Student Advisory Council will assist the Oklahoma State Department of Education on policy matters, according to a statement released Monday.

Bree Phelps, of Fox, Joshua Harvey, of Healdton and Jentri Rayburn, of Plainview, are three Carter County teens appointed to the council. Brandon Serrano, of Madill, Mariah Martin, of Ringling, and Hannah Holder, of Sulphur, were also named to the council.

The Student Advisory Council was first convened in 2016. Two dozen students named to the council this year have served in previous years. According to a statement, themes promoted by the council last year included personal financial literacy education, student mental health needs, and how trauma affects chronic absenteeism. In years past, school violence and testing methods were also addressed.

Feedback from the Student Advisory Council has impacted initiatives at the state-level, including more professional development in trauma-informed instruction for Oklahoma teachers and end-of-course testing is being replaced with ACT or SAT testing. An Individual Career Academic Planning program recommended by previous councils was also implemented this school year, and requires incoming freshmen to complete and annually update an academic plan before graduation.

Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the council is imperative to gather feedback directly from students. “Each year I continue to be touched by the wisdom, hope and compassion of these amazing young people who represent their schools and communities,” she said.

Council members are recommended by their district superintendents each year from rural, urban, and suburban school districts across Oklahoma. The council will hold their first meeting in Oklahoma City on Jan. 29, 2020.

Area students named to OSDE 2020 Student Advisory Council

Bree Phelps - Fox HS

Joshua Harvey - Healdton HS

Brandon Serrano - Madill HS

Jentri Rayburn - Plainview HS

Mariah Martin - Ringling HS

Hannah Holder - Sulphur HS