School board hears from student governor

Photos by David Sable
Longtime Radford High School Custodian Thomas Wheeler celebrates his retirement with Superintendent Rob Graham in a ceremony prior to the school board meeting on Tuesday, which was held at RHS. Wheeler has 34 years of service for Radford City Schools.

It was an evening of accolades at the Radford City School Board meeting, as board members heard from the high school’s student governor and received word two RCS programs have earned recognition from the Virginia School Board Association.

Mark Johnston, a Radford High School senior, served as Virginia Youth Governor through the YMCA Model General Assembly program after being elected last year when he served as a delegate as a junior. Johnston gave the student report at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at RHS, and presented information about his time as governor.

Johnston has participated in the MGA program, which is led at RHS by teacher Carol Andrews, since he was a sophomore. Last year, as a delegate, he was encouraged to run for governor.

“So, I put my hat in the ring,” he said Tuesday. “I got up on stage and looked out at about 250 people and it was at that moment I realized I haven’t done much public speaking.”

Johnston said he was excited to be elected and is thankful to have participated in the MGA program.

“This has been such a great program,” he said. “It has reached out and touched so many lives.”

Radford High School Senior Mark Johnston tells the school board about his experience as the YMCA Model General Assembly governor at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Johnston is the third student in school history to be elected governor of the program. Johnston is the son of Mike and Mary Johnston.

As governor, Johnston held a press conference, participated in debates and got a chance to walk through the tunnels that lead from the state capitol building to the governor’s mansion and go to the top of the capitol building. Johnston also participated in the national youth governor’s conference last summer, where he spent time with 43 other student governors from across the country.

“At least seven of them are going to Ivy League schools, and it was a phenomenal experience to be around that caliber of student,” he said.

Board member Jessie Critterton said Johnston was among appropriate peers.

“You are that caliber of student,” she said. “They were lucky to be in your presence.”

Also on Tuesday, Superintendent Rob Graham told board members Radford City Schools has been recognized by the Virginia School Board Association for two programs at McHarg School, Swim School and the Parent Education Resource Center (PERC).

“The VSBA recognition is not only a great honor for our schools and division, but it also reminds us of how dedicated, committed and passionate our faculty and staff are about providing the love/care and teaching/learning needed to develop the whole child,” said Graham via email about the recognition. “We certainly will celebrate this recognition from the VSBA, but we will also remember to say, ‘thank you,’ to our RCPS staff who consistently go above and beyond to help our students achieve and succeed.”

RCPS is one of 56 school divisions in Virginia to be featured. Swim School involves all McHarg second graders taking swim lessons at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center. The primarily grant-funded PERC “was created as a support system for parents, educators, and our community,” according to a narrative written to the VSBA by RCS officials. “The PERC exists to promote student success by helping parents and educators come together as a team. Our staff is available to offer guidance about the special education process, family involvement activities, and links to various community resources and information.”

In a ceremony prior to the regular board meeting, longtime Radford High School custodian (and all-around guy who helps the school run) Thomas Wheeler was honored for his 34 years of service to the school division. Wheeler is retiring at the end of the school year.

The next school board meeting is set for Tuesday, June 13 at 6 p.m.

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