Thank You, McKenna Roberts!
The State Board of Education will say farewell to one of its most influential student Board members at the upcoming May Board meeting: McKenna Roberts. McKenna was selected by the Association of Washington Student Leaders as a sophomore and served on the Board during her junior and senior years. She is passionate about representing students in rural settings (she will graduate from Okanogan High School this May), comprehensive sexual health education for all students, ethnic studies, and mental health support. She was also instrumental in advocating for SB 5497 which gave student members voting rights on the Board this past session.
“As our Board evolves, we’re thankful for students like McKenna who show us wisdom, empathy, and a deep understanding for what our students go through today,” said Bill Kallappa, SBE Chair. “Thank you, McKenna, for always engaging, keeping us focused, and proving that our kids can do incredible work on behalf of their peers.”
McKenna joined the Board in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Board’s meetings were held virtually, she was able to make an impact and advocate for students suffering from the pandemic’s effects on her peers’ mental health.
In a Seattle Times article on SB 5497, she said:
“I think that a lot of damage has been done that isn’t just going to go away because we’re going back in person. Going back in person for some students might even worsen their mental health. School districts and teachers just need to make it clear and have grace with those students.”
Some highlights from McKenna's time as a student member are as follows:
- April 2022: Governor Inslee highlights SB 5497 (student voting rights on the State Board) (video)
- March 2022: Students close to getting voting power on WA education board (Crosscut piece)
- February 2022: House Education Committee (testifying on vote) (video)
- January 2022: Students Testify on Vote (blog)
- December 2021: Request Legislation on Student Vote (blog)
- August 2021: These Washington state teens think students deserve voting rights on the state’s highest educational board (Seattle Times piece)
- February 2021: Student Wishes, Wants, Concerns about Graduation (ASWL survey project)
- January 2021: Student Panel Presentation (video)
- January 2021: McKenna and Margarita Remarks on Graduation (audio)
- November 2020: House Education Committee Work Session (presentation)
- July 2020: State Board Welcomes New Student Member (press release)
"McKenna has been one of the most engaged, bright, and focused student members," said Randy Spaulding, SBE’s Executive Director. "She has showed us that students’ voices are strong and must be amplified when possible. Her perspective has brought positive change. She will continue to make positive change wherever she goes."
McKenna plans to attend Barnard College in New York City and plans to study political science.
Join McKenna and her fellow student Board member, Pavan Venkatakrishnan during this evening’s student-led, student-voice graduation requirements listening session. Learn more: sbe.wa.gov/alignment.