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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Nineteen Kentucky public high school students have been selected to join the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council for the 2020-21 year, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) announced on July 20.

The council was established to provide feedback on critical issues impacting students and schools and works with KDE staff to develop ideas to improve and transform education.

The group meets with the commissioner and KDE staff, both in person and virtually, to discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting students throughout Kentucky.

“Now more than ever, it is critically important that we have student voice present in every single decision that we make,” said Interim Commissioner Kevin C. Brown. “We certainly saw that this past spring, as we relied heavily on this council to provide feedback on things like graduation, non-traditional instruction and re-entry plans for the new school year, among many other things.”

Incoming Commissioner Jason Glass, who will begin his position at KDE on Sept. 14, said he is very excited to meet with the students.

“Involving the voices of our students and empowering them in our decisions on education is critically important to me and to the future of education in Kentucky,” Glass. “I look forward to working with these exceptional young people as we work to imagine what school could be for the Commonwealth.”

The newly selected members will serve for the 2020-2021 school year. Sophomores and juniors will have the opportunity to serve again in fall 2021.

The new members include:

Wallace Caleb Bates, 12th grade, Breathitt County High School

Trevin Bevins, 11th grade, Shelby Valley High School (Pike County)

Gavin Breunig – 10th grade, Elizabethtown High School (Elizabethtown Independent)

Drake Calhoon, 10th grade, Calloway County High School

Sofia Farmer, 12th grade, Gatton Academy (Danville Independent)

Soleila Elliott González, 11th grade, Ballard High School (Jefferson County)

Peyton Hall, 12th grade, Fleming County High School

Nae’Shon Harrison, 11th grade, Phoenix School of Discovery (Jefferson County)

Viviana Heredia, 12th grade, Ryle High School (Boone County)

Jack Johnson, 10th grade, Marshall County High School

Logan Justice, 11th grade, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Fayette County)

Loren Little, 10th grade, Clinton County High School

Miles McGinnis, 12th grade, South Oldham High School (Oldham County)

Anastasia Panaretos, 10th grade, South Oldham High School (Oldham County)

Kade Scott, 12th grade, Floyd Central High School (Floyd County)

Gracie Smith, 10th grade, Kentucky School for the Blind (Hardin County)

Lohith Tummala, 12th grade, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School (Fayette County)

Anna Williams, 12th grade, Anderson County High School

Amy Yang, 12th grade, Craft Academy (Rowan County)

The 19 new members join 9 returning members, including:

Madelyn Blankenship – 11th grade, Pulaski County High School

Mi’Keyla Crumble – 12th grade, Hickman County High School

Reece Dicken – 12th grade, Barren County High School

Rohin Dutt – 11th grade, duPont Manual High School (Jefferson County)

Laila Hayes – 12th grade, duPont Manual High School (Jefferson County)

Elizabeth Holcomb – 12th grade, Kentucky School for the Deaf

Solyana Mesfin – 11th grade, Eastern High School (Jefferson County)

Lauren Shackelford – 12th grade, Corbin High School (Corbin Independent)

Samuel Smith – 11th grade, Daviess County High School

More than 140 students from across the Commonwealth applied for a spot on the advisory council this year. Applications were blind-scored by a panel of judges from across Kentucky.

Membership consists of at least two seats from each of the seven Kentucky Board of Education districts; four at-large student members; one student from the Kentucky School for the Blind, one student for the Kentucky School for the Deaf and student members enrolled in a career and technical education pathway.

The first virtual meeting of the 2020-2021 school year took place Wednesday.

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