Two Sapulpa Chieftains on student advisory council

(SPS) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has named 97 Oklahoma high school students to her 2021 Student Advisory Council, and the group includes two Sapulpa Chieftains.

Senior Heather Sparks and junior Nathaniel Neill have been named to the 2021 Student Advisory Council.

Senior Heather Sparks and junior Nathaniel Neill have been selected to participate. It’s the second year in a row for Sparks and the first for Neill.

It’s the sixth consecutive year the group has been convened to assist Hofmeister and the Oklahoma State Department of Education in matters of policy.

“Students have a lot to say about their education, and it is critical that we listen to them. The direct insight we receive from our students is incredibly valuable, and each year I am encouraged by the thoughtful reflection and fearless vision of these brilliant young leaders,” Hofmeister said.

The 2020 Student Advisory Council last met virtually in June, where students voiced their challenges about learning amid a global pandemic and how racism impacts the classroom experience. Other past discussion topics have included the importance of personal financial literacy, increased awareness of student mental health needs, and how trauma can impede student success. Feedback from the Council has been instrumental in state-level initiatives to provide teachers more professional development in trauma-informed instruction, replace end-of-course high school testing with the ACT or SAT, and pilot Individual Career Academic Planning (ICAP).

Recommended by their district superintendents, the students hail from across Oklahoma and represent rural, urban and suburban schools of all sizes. Forty-four are returning members who have served on the council in previous years.

The first virtual meeting of the Student Advisory Council is scheduled for Jan. 26.