For Immediate Release
Friday, September 23, 2016

State Board’s Student Advisory Council welcomes 12 new members at first convening for the 2016-17 School Year

They join four returning members to voice student concerns and participate in education policymaking

Sixteen sophomore, junior, and senior high school students from throughout the State of Illinois met for the first time as the State Board’s Student Advisory Council (SAC) for the 2016-17 School Year. The teens convened at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) offices in Springfield on Sept. 13 and 14. Members of SAC, who were selected from dozens of applicants, have an opportunity to see the State Board’s policymakers in action and work with them to provide student perspectives and concerns on the state’s education policies.

“The Illinois State Board of Education places tremendous value on the student perspective,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “SAC not only provides ISBE with critical feedback on our key initiatives directly affecting the classroom, but also provides motivated and civic-minded student leaders with a window into the education policymaking process.”

The 2016-17 SAC includes 12 new members and four returning members. The new members of this year’s SAC are:

  • Neha Arun, sophomore at Carterville High School
  • Oliver Barrara, a junior at North Chicago Community High School
  • Evan Blievernicht, a junior at Teutopolis High School
  • Stella Cole, a senior at Springfield High School
  • Archit Dhar, a senior at Neuqua Valley High School
  • Morgan Fleck, a senior at Williamsville High School
  • Breeze Keppy, a senior at Paris High School
  • Kevin D. Little, a junior at Niles West High School
  • Gloria Oladipo, a senior at Whitney M. Young Magnet
  • Darcy Palder, a senior at Jones College Prep School
  • Sung “Shawn” Park, a senior at Metea Valley High School
  • Elizabeth Warden, a junior at Beardstown High School

The returning members of this year’s SAC are:

  • Seetha Aribindi, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School
  • Bridget Harris, a junior at Belvidere North High School
  • Kathleen Rock, a junior at Byron High School
  • Hannah Sunderland, a senior at Knoxville High School

Each year, the members of SAC select a topic to research in depth and present to the State Board of Education. In previous years, the SAC has examined best practices for recognizing vocational education, grading scales for school districts, the effects of cyber bullying, the effects of mandatory physical education on high school students and district budgets, and the dropout crisis.

“Opportunities like SAC prepare students to lead the boards and governing bodies of the future,” said State Board of Education Chairman James T. Meeks. “I look forward to working with our new and returning SAC members to better our education system for all students, and I encourage every Illinois high school student interested in government and politics to look into applying for SAC for next year.”  

Applicants to the SAC undergo a competitive review process. Those selected exhibit strong interpersonal skills, the ability to work well in groups, think creatively, and come up with innovative solutions to policy challenges. Most have an avid interest in public service and education policy. The SAC was established in 1975. All sophomores, juniors, and seniors who attend an Illinois public high school are eligible to apply. Applications for next year’s SAC (school year 2017-18) will be available in spring of 2017.

For more information on SAC, visit: