For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

ISBE welcomes 13 new members to Student Advisory Council

​Eight members return for 2020-21 school year

SPRINGFIELD – Twenty high school students from across Illinois will meet for the first time at Wednesday's Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) meeting as members of the ISBE 2020-21 Student Advisory Council. The council includes 13 new and eight returning members from across the state. The Student Advisory Council provides an important student perspective as ISBE develops policy.  

“As educators, we have the responsibility and the honor of nurturing young minds," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “This year's Student Advisory Council is a fantastic group of young adults ready to make a difference not only in their community, but across the entire state. ISBE looks forward to listening to these students' ideas and perspectives as we work to address the issues facing Illinois' classrooms."

The council will research and present to ISBE on topics affecting students' success in Illinois. Students will focus on developing ways to respond to the achievement gap widened by COVID-19; creating a diversity, equity and inclusion framework; ensuring the safety and emotional wellbeing of students; and addressing the teacher shortage and rethinking recruitment. 

The council will continue to develop the Student Voices microsite at The Student Voices site provides space for students to ask and answer questions and access resources about preparing for college and career. Follow along with the council's work on its independently managed Instagram account at

The new members of the 2019-20 Student Advisory Council are:

  • America Gutierrez, senior at Collinsville High School in Collinsville
  • Araha Uday, junior at Schaumburg High School in Schaumburg
  • Cruz Garza, sophomore at Zion-Benton Township High School in Beach Park
  • Eric Veal Jr., junior at Willowbrook high School in Lombard
  • Hannah Lawrence, senior at Lane Tech High School in Chicago
  • Jimma Gass, senior at Eldorado High School in Eldorado
  • Kaitlyn Zhou, senior at Neuqua​ Valley High School in Naperville
  • Kiersten Hornberg, senior at Huntley High School in Huntley
  • Langston Span, sophomore at Champaign Central High School in Champaign
  • Lia Rivera Mendoza, sophomore at Jefferson High School in Rockford
  • Ranyia Cox, sophomore at East St. Louis High School in East St. Louis
  • Serena Thakkar, junior at St. Charles East High School in West Chicago
  • Talib Becktemba-Goss, senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park

The returning members of the council are:

  • Amir Sykes, senior at Manual Academy in Peoria
  • Anna Foster, senior at PORTA High School in Petersburg
  • Chloe Goodman, senior at Red Bud High School in Red Bud
  • Faith Drescher, senior at Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale
  • Leo Krueger, junior at Vandalia Community High School in Vandalia
  • Nathaniel Youman, senior at Stillman Valley High School in Stillman Valley
  • Theodore Johnson, senior at Urbana High School in Urbana
  • Tucker Poshard, senior at Carbondale Community High School in Carbondale

The Student Advisory Council has provided input on topics such as equity, mental health, competency-based education, college and career readiness, special education, and technology in the classroom. Last year's seniors on the council also made videos to share what they're most proud of and their favorite memories from school with other seniors who graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find the videos, part of a nationwide virtual graduation celebration, at

ISBE will make applications for the 2021-22 council available in the spring of 2021.

The State Board established the council in 1975. Learn more at​​