Celeste Urdal is the student representative on the Knox County Board of Education. I had the privilege of finding out why a busy 17-year-old senior at Bearden High School is excited to be on what most adults find a mind-boggling position.
I don’t want to paraphrase Celeste’s answers so you can read her own words:
“I wanted to be the student representative for the school board because I felt like I could accurately represent what students need. I see how hard it can be to be a student, so I want to make receiving a quality education as stress-free as it can be. Since the members of the school board are not students, they do not fully understand the ins and outs of student life, so I wanted to be the representative in order to make sure the nuances that they may not understand are brought to light.
“I have a firm belief that education offers the door to so many opportunities, so I want to ensure that every student, no matter their background, gets a quality education that sets them up for whatever path they want to take. Every student deserves a quality education, so I want to ensure that Knox County upholds its commitment to the students.
“Before the next student board representative takes over, I want to accomplish some sort of mental health campaign across the high schools and possibly middle schools of Knox County Schools. Mental health problems are a growing issue, especially during this time period. I want all the students to know that they are not alone and that it does not make them weak to reach out for help.”
Celeste says the most interesting thing that has happened during her time on the board so far has been reading the back-to-school policies that had to be approved before the school year started. These policies included homework, dual enrollment and the requirements to graduate with honors.
The one thing she would change is probably what everyone who truly understands education would change: the stress placed on state standardized testing.
She says, “I understand why the testing is important; however, it seems unreasonable to base up to 15% of one’s grade on the test. Every teacher upholds different standards, so it makes sense for the teacher to decide what determines their final grade, not the state.”
Celeste plans to pursue a political science degree and dreams to graduate from law school.
Celeste isn’t lacking for entertainment in her life as she plays volleyball for Bearden High School, a sport she has been playing since third grade. She is a member of the Bearden High Key Club, Student Government Association and Senior Committee. By the way, she holds board positions in both Key Club and SGA. Celeste is also a member of Dawgathon, a club dedicated to raising money for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Celeste wanted me to share that all students reading this can come to her with any questions or concerns. She sincerely feels her job is to get their voices heard, and she will uphold that duty.
All of us have a story and I want to tell yours! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org