Nov 12, 2010 5:48 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Montana students meet in Helena, offer advice to Juneau

Students from across Montana came to Helena on Friday to share their ideas about how to improve graduation rates in the state.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau heard from 40 students during the first-ever statewide Student Advisory Board meeting.

Kids from Missoula to Eureka to Wibaux met at Carroll College and offered advice and ideas to Juneau about how the Office of Public Instruction could improve their "Graduation Matters Montana" initiative.

Ideas ranged from more hands-on learning to improving class schedules.

Cody Preston, a Helena High School senior, explained, "I got involved because I want to decrease the number of drop-outs and want to increase the people who graduate every year from schools."

Juneau noted, "A lot of times we sit in meetings, in workshops, and conferences with adults trying to make decisions about how best to keep students in school, what they should be learning and how they should be learning, and very rarely do we ask the people who we are trying to affect the most through direct question of how are things working."

More than 30 schools were represented at the meeting.

Juneau says she will take all the ideas back to OPI and even to the state Legislature.

(November 10, 2010) Denise Juneau, the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, will convene the first-ever State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board on Friday, November 12th, in Helena at Carroll College.

The board consists of 40 high school students from 31 Montana schools that represent more than 140,000 students (K-12) across the Treasure State.

The board’s first mission is to advise Juneau on "Graduation Matters Montana," an initiative aimed at increasing the number of Montana students who graduate from high school through collaborative partnerships with schools, community organizations, businesses, and youth.

Student Advisory Board members were nominated by local school and community members, and also had to apply for selection to the board.

The board members, in grades 9–12, are travelling from rural communities such as Wibaux and Poplar and from larger communities such as Billings and Missoula.

“We are all well aware of the serious consequences of young people not receiving a high school diploma,” Juneau said. “I believe students are the most important voice in helping us to best address this issue, and the Student Summit will begin an overdue conversation about what is working and what needs to improve.”