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HEBRON ESTATES - North Bullitt High School senior Forrest Miller is one of 11 Kentucky students selected to serve on the first Next-Generation Student Council, a new group formed by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.
“This is an awesome opportunity,” Forrest said. “It is an honor to be picked. I plan to share a lot of my concerns, as well as those of my teachers at North Bullitt.”
In his opinion, the top three issues facing Kentucky students are a lack of higher educational opportunities, a decreased importance placed on a good education, and the negative effects of the rigorous oversight policies placed on public schools.
Forrest was given an application by teacher Sharon Norton, and knew the State Student Council would be a good fit for him.
“I am really into politics and history,” he said, describing his political views as very conservative. His media preferences are the Fox Network and Bill O’Reilly.
The greatest challenge completing the application was the word limitation.
“My writing, I feel, is very strong and I was challenged to explain my stance in so few sentences,” he said. “I feel my expressive writing was the biggest persuasion for my selection. Three qualities I wrote about that I pledge to bring to the Next-Generation Student Council are Ambition, Ingenuity, and Leadership.”
The application was due in late December and Forrest learned of the selection a month later.
“When I got home from school, Mom handed me a letter with the confirmation. Both of my parents were very happy for me,” Forrest said. “My parents have always been such great role models who have strongly supported my education, and that of my younger brother, Tristan, a sophomore at North Bullitt.”
His grandmother, Paulette Miller, telephones him to congratulate him on the good news.
“I really don’t think the importance of all this has sunk in yet,” Forrest smiled.
North Bullitt High School Principal Jeff Marshall called the selection a “great honor for Forrest” and for his teachers.
“His life is a collection of experiences,” Marshall said. “Many of you have helped mold and shape this young man. He will represent us well in Frankfort.”
Forrest feels sharing his voice with educational leaders in Frankfort is a great opportunity for both students and their targeted audience.
“This is our generation’s chance to let state educational officials know what is happening in education from our perspective,” he said. “I aspire to ensure that my peers’ voices are heard, and that our Kentucky Education, and our Kentucky minds, are moving forward in a positive and beneficial direction.”
Forrest has planted leadership seeds of his own while at North Bullitt. One of the projects he is most proud of occurs at Overdale Elementary School.
“It’s called Keys to Success Program, and it involves roughly 30 students from North going to Overdale as mentors to younger children,” he explained. “We spend time listening to them talk about school and home, as well as encourage them to do the best they can in school. We even get a chance to play games inside the school and on the playground.”
The positive relationships are akin to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Forrest said Overdale was the ideal place because it was his former elementary school.
He maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is quite active at North Bullitt as Senior Class President, National Honor Society President and founder of the Young Republicans Club. He also is the captain of the men’s soccer team, an active drama club member, and current baseball player.
So the question for the 18 year-old son of Janelle and David Miller is this...are you spreading yourself too thin?
Without a second’s hesitation and a big grin, Forrest replied, “No way! This is my senior year. I only get to do this once and I want to make the most of it.”
During the summer of 2011, Forrest was chosen to participate in the Governor’s Scholars Program at Centre College in Danville.
“Governor’s Scholars was an amazing experience,” he said. “I enjoyed being on Centre’s campus for five weeks attending classes and focusing on subjects that really broadened my horizons. It was the most incredible time of my life.”
Graduation this spring leaves him already missing the family he knows as North Bullitt’s students and staff.
“I have been very fortunate to meet outstanding teachers and make many friendships,” he said. “I’ll miss the faculty which has become a second family to me. It’s the kind of year you don’t want to see end but you are also eager to start the next phase of life.”
The University of Kentucky has awarded Forrest a Presidential Scholarship. It is a full-ride which covers all of his tuition fees and books so he will transition from being an Eagle to becoming a Wildcat.
The only dilemma is, ironically, his major.
“I’m really torn between several subjects,” Forrest grinned, meaning he really does not know which direction he is heading
“At first, I considered teaching but the more I thought about it, I realized it was too narrow for me,” he said.
“Then it was history,” he continued. “I am fascinated with the subject. It seemed like the right major but, then again, I realized it wasn’t broad enough.”
“The third major became political science because I enjoy current events and thinking of ways to make the world a better place,” he explained. “That actually got me to think about what I settled on as a major...marketing, with a minor in pre-law.”
“There are so many areas I can apply marketing skills, from economics, to the legal world, to even athletics,” he said.
The first meeting of the Next-Generation Student Council has been set for Feb. 28 in Frankfort.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with this group of students and hearing their ideas and thoughts about Kentucky’s public education system,” said Holliday. “These students represent the ultimate goals of our state’s educational efforts, which should culminate at the high school level with all students ready for college or careers. I’m very interested in hearing how they think Kentucky is doing in that area.”
Public school students in grades 10-12 were invited to apply for membership in the Next-Generation Student Council, which will provide valuable feedback from Kentucky students and engage student leaders in learning by doing. This group will meet with the commissioner and Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) staff, both in person and virtually, to discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting students throughout Kentucky and provide feedback — from a student perspective — on critical issues impacting Kentucky students and schools.
The Next-Generation Student Council is a year-long program for Kentucky public school students in grades 10-12. The council seeks students with refreshing ideas and thoughtful insight into how schools and student achievement can be improved. Students who represent the diverse academic, geographic, demographic and school-size variables particular to Kentucky are encouraged to apply.
A committee of KDE representatives reviewed and scored all applications based on the answers provided to the questions. Appointments to the council were based on how well the applicants communicated their ideas and goals. This first group of students will serve during the 2011-12 school year, and those who are not graduating seniors during that school year may reapply to serve in the 2012-13 school year.