Greene County High School junior Taylor Garretson and senior Devon McClelland were named last week as members of the 2020-2021 State Superintendent of Education’s Student Advisory Council.
Photo by Annette Harvison – Herald Staff

By ANNETTE HARVISON
Herald Staff

The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced last week the members of the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and two Greene County High School students are included.

Greene County High School senior Devon McClelland and junior Taylor Garretson will serve on the Student Advisory Council for the 2020-21 school year, and both will participate in activities performed by the council.

The council includes students in grades 11-12 or first year of college to serve as members for a term of two school years. More than 300 students from across the state applied for membership on the council and 163 were selected. They will join the more than 70 students who were selected in 2019.

The application process was independent. These students did not have to be recommended by a teacher or administrator, and the students selected to serve on the council were selected at random. Both students are excited to represent the Greene County School District as well as their fellow students in all schools throughout the district.

McClelland said he ventured upon the opportunity while browsing for extracurricular activities involving civic duties.

“I saw it (Student Advisory Council) as an opportunity to give a voice to those unheard and make a better learning environment,” McClelland said. “I believe civic engagement is not only important but essential for the student body and the school district.”

“I see it as an opportunity to make a positive impact for the Greene County School District.”

McClelland, who is the son John and Robin McClelland, moved to Greene County when he was in the seventh grade. He said he hopes to be a voice for his fellow classmates while he serves on the council. After graduation, McClelland said he plans to enlist in the United State Air Force and begin his enlistment next summer. He plans to pursue a degree in cyber security.

Garretson is the daughter of Ron and Vicky Garretson. She said GCHS teacher Kandi Ham recommended she apply for the council.

“It sounded like it would be a great opportunity.” Garretson said. “I’ve always been interested in the way rules and regulations work in school operations. I hope to see a change in our school and to bring a positive change to our environment for students.”

Garretson is a member of the GCHS Sassy Cats dance team and Center Stage School of Dance. She is a member of the GCHS Beta Club and the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). Though she still has time left before committing to post-graduation plans, Garretson said she plans on going to college to study psychology.

McClelland and Garretson said meetings will likely be held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but they are still excited to get to be part of the council. They will participate in meetings with other students across the state hoping to share their voices and opinions on what could make schools in Mississippi better for all students.

“We are very proud to have these two students representing our district on the State Superintendent’s Advisory Council,” Greene County Supt. of Education Charles Breland said. “This is the first time that we have had someone chosen to represent our district and we are blessed to not only have one, but two students chosen.”

“I look forward to hearing more about their experiences on this council in the year ahead.”

Students from different backgrounds, school size and regions in Mississippi will be able to share their opinions and offer advice about educational opportunities and policy in Mississippi with Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with such smart, insightful students last year, and I’m looking forward to hearing from our new members on issues of importance to them,” Wright said. “The public-school students of our state are our clients, and we need to ensure that we provide them with the opportunities they need to be successful. The council also allows students, who wouldn’t normally have the chance to interact, to talk with peers in different areas of our state.”

The council’s purpose is to provide a forum for Mississippi’s students to offer diverse perspectives to Wright. The selected students will act as liaisons between MDE and public-school students from across the state. Council meetings will be held twice (fall and spring) during the school year.

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