Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Friday announced the makeup of her new Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, a group of students who offer Baesler their advice and opinions about North Dakota education policy. The new 19-member Cabinet will hold its first meeting in September.
Baesler founded the Cabinet in April 2015. Its members serve for 18 months, after which a new Cabinet is chosen. The group meets with the superintendent every three months. The students decide which issues to focus on, and which speakers they would like to engage in conversation with.
Previous suggestions from Cabinet members have led to a number of substantive policy advancements, including grants for early childhood education and broader availability of advanced coursework in schools.
The members of the new Cabinet are:
- Tristan Orton, a fourth grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Dickinson;
- Wyatt Barth, a fourth grader at the Innovation School in Bismarck;
- Grace Arthaud, a fifth grader at DeMores Elementary School in Medora;
- Kendall Jones, a fifth grader at Dakota Montessori School in Fargo;
- Ayden Frohlich, a seventh grader at Simle Middle School in Bismarck;
- Laura Eichhorst, a seventh grader at Underwood High School in Underwood;
- Aidan Bertsch, an eighth grader at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo;
- Gillian Ellena Lunde, an eighth grader at Standing Rock Middle School in Fort Yates;
- Halle Sanders, an eighth grader at Langdon Area Middle School in Langdon;
- Marisa Tafoya-Borr, an eighth grader at Simle Middle School in Bismarck;
- Reilly Meyer, an eighth grader at Trinity High School in Dickinson;
- Sheyenne Waletzko, an eighth grader at Lisbon Middle School in Lisbon;
- Zara Laber, a ninth grader at Mandan High School in Mandan;
- Kourtney Bitz, a 10th grader at Napoleon High School in Napoleon;
- Tegan Amundson, a 10th grader at Richland 44 Junior/Senior High School in Colfax;
- Colton Willits, an 11th grader at North Border-Walhalla High School in Walhalla;
- Gracie Johnsrud, an 11th grader at Watford City High School in Watford City;
- Preeti Chemiti, an 11th grader at Sheyenne High School in West Fargo; and
- Tobias Zikmund, a 12th grader at Park River Area High School in Park River.
The group is North Dakota’s third Superintendent’s Student Cabinet. Bertsch, Meyer, Amundson and Johnsrud were reappointed to new terms. The other 16 students are new members.
Seventy young people applied to be considered for Cabinet appointments. Applicants were asked to write answers to several questions, including a question that asked what they believed was the biggest issue facing students in North Dakota. The applications were then vetted and scored by a team of Department of Public Instruction employees outside of the superintendent’s office.
The students represent schools in 15 communities across North Dakota. There are students from eight separate grades, 15 public schools and two nonpublic schools, and six Class A and 11 Class B schools.