For Immediate Release
Nov. 10, 2016
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 10, 2016 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said 20 North Dakota young people have been named to her Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, whose members offer opinions and advice from a student perspective about educational policy and opportunity.
The new group will hold its first meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, in the state Capitol’s Brynhild Haugland Room.
Baesler founded the Cabinet in April 2015. The new group is the second Cabinet chosen in state history. Members are appointed to serve for 18 months. Of the Cabinet’s 20 newly chosen students, five will be serving a second term. Ninety-six students applied to be considered.
The members of the new Cabinet are:
Annabelle Maher, Fargo, a fourth grader at Legacy Elementary School, West Fargo
Aidan Pelton, Watford City, a fourth grader at Watford City Intermediate School
Karlee Hoyt, Williston, a fifth grader at Round Prairie Elementary, Williston
Tyson Odermann, Parshall, a sixth grader at Parshall Elementary School
Lucy Pulver, Hazen, a sixth grader at Hazen Elementary School
Hannah Radzwill, Mohall, a sixth grader at Mohall Elementary School
Aidan Bertsch, West Fargo, a seventh grader at Cheney Middle School, West Fargo
Reilly Meyer, Dickinson, a seventh grader at Trinity High School, Dickinson
Garret Meehl, Oakes, an eighth grader at Oakes High School
Thomas Tiegs, Ellendale, an eighth grader at Ellendale Public School
Tegan Amundson, Abercrombie, a ninth grader at Richland County 44 High School, Colfax
Skyler Strand, Bismarck, a ninth grader at Bismarck High School
Gracie Johnsrud, Watford City, a 10th grader at Watford City High School
Victoria Schweitzer, Bismarck, a 10th grader at Legacy High School, Bismarck
Karena Verbitsky, Minot, an 11th grader at South Prairie High School, Minot
Lynna Ngo, Fargo, a 12th grader at South High School, Fargo
Dawson Schefter, Langdon, a 12th grader at Langdon Area High School, Langdon
Austin Weigel, Fargo, a 12th grader at Shanley High School, Fargo
Peyton Cole, Park River, a freshman at the University of North Dakota
Cole Garman, Mandan, a freshman at the University of Jamestown
Strand, Ngo, Schefter, Cole and Garman were all members of the inaugural Superintendent’s Student Cabinet. “As college freshmen, Peyton and Cole will be able to share their perspectives on how well their North Dakota K-12 schools prepared them for college,” Baesler said.
Six of the Cabinet members are elementary school students. “As an elementary teacher for many years, and as a vice principal in an elementary school, I often had the opportunity to interact with Student Council members,” Baesler said. “Elementary students are honest. They have clarity in their thoughts and observations. They are eager to share their ideas with frankness and openness.”
Student Cabinet applicants were required to submit letters of recommendation and write answers to a series of questions, including a question on what they believed to be the biggest issue facing students in North Dakota. The applications were then evaluated and ranked by a team of people outside of the superintendent’s office.
Since its inception, the Student Cabinet has provided invaluable advice, Baesler said.
“In meetings of the first Student Cabinet, we discussed policy. We discussed early childhood education. We discussed federal law. We discussed assessments, the importance of college entrance exams,” Baesler said. “We discussed the ideas of having more opportunities for a broader array of electives for all of our students.”
The Cabinet has 11 females and nine males, from 16 North Dakota communities: Abercrombie, Bismarck, Dickinson, Ellendale, Fargo, Hazen, Langdon, Mandan, Minot, Mohall, Oakes, Park River, Parshall, Watford City, West Fargo and Williston. Two members are from nonpublic schools, Dickinson Trinity High School and Fargo Shanley High School.
Baesler said she wants to hear students’ unvarnished opinions.
“We want to make sure that we’re hearing about the good things that we’re doing in our North Dakota schools, so we can keep doing those,” Baesler said. “But we also need to hear from students who aren’t having such a great experience, and learn from them how we can adjust and change to improve the experience for students.”