For two years, East Wake High School senior Madison Bell spent one day a month missing morning classes on a Wednesday or Thursday to rub elbows with state officials, like state school superintendent June Atkinson.
As the junior and later, senior, student adviser to the State Board of Education, Bell got a taste of what it takes to form education policy alongside the group that actually does it.
As her senior year comes to close, the board presented her with a plaque for her two years of service at its meeting last week.
Chairman Bill Cobey praised Bell’s academic achievements and positive attitude throughout her time as a student adviser.
Student advisers to the board are non-voting members, on hand to act as a representative for students in the state.
Bell said she was OK with not voting, but it would have added to her experience if she could.
“Usually my vote wouldn’t change the decision, but it would nice to have my word representing students count, she said.”
Even though she couldn’t influence policy by vote, she was able to help parents and peers understand new policies and laws.
“I didn’t really know anybody knew who I was (and) that I had a part in the state’s decision,” she said.
Bell said she rarely disagreed with the board’s opinions but board members still asked her for her opinion for some things. More interesting to Bell, though, was to see all the educators who are involved with the board.
“(It showed me) how much the educators that come and talk and present are so passionate, its nice to see that ... there really are some great teachers out there,” she said.
Bell’s parents are also teachers and her mom, Melissa Bell, is also her softball coach at East Wake High.
Student advisers to the board come from all over the state and must submit and application. Bell didn’t know about the program, but her principal, Sebastian Shipp, asked her if she would be willing to consider it at the beginning of her junior year.
“It sounded fancy and interesting,” Bell said. After a long application and more paperwork, she was named the junior student adviser.
Before delving into education, Bell learned about more general government as a page at the General Assembly during her freshman and sophomore years.
Even though she has seen the inner-workings of state agencies, Bell will head to UNC Chapel Hill to study physical therapy in August.
“I like (being a board adviser), I think it’s interesting but I can’t see myself doing it every day,” she said. “I’m too active to be sitting in an office.”
Boards that meet monthly, like the Board of Education, though are still a consideration for her she said since they don’t require the same amount of office time.
Bell’s position will be filled by current junior student adviser, Shykeim Williams of Randleman High School in Asheboro.