Clayton high school student named to State Board of Education advisory board
By: Robin Koppen
JCPS Communications Specialist
Marcela Villasuso Venegas, a junior from Clayton High School, was recently appointed to the advisory board of the State Board of Education. She was personally selected by State Superintendent Catherine Truitt to serve the two-year term.
The National Board of Education consists of the Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer, and eleven members appointed by the Governor for overlapping eight-year terms, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly.
Eight of the Board’s appointed members represent the state’s eight school districts. These districts are drawn by lot by the General Assembly. Johnston County is in North Central District 3.
Other members of the board of education include teachers and principals of the year in North Carolina from the current year and the previous year, who serve as advisors. Other advisors include a local superintendent and a member of the local school board.
Marcela is one of only two high school students to sit on the advisory board. Each year, the state superintendent personally selects a high school junior for the position on the advisory board. “I’m really grateful to Superintendent Truitt,” Marcela said. “I admire him so much.”
During her tenure on the advisory board, Marcela hopes to be a bridge between students and the state school board. “Maybe I can be a guide either for the board to see things from our perspective or for the students to understand what’s going on behind the scenes,” she said.
Additionally, she plans to ensure that North Carolina students receive the education they deserve. “I think it’s important that we have people who really want the best for our students and make those decisions for us,” she said.
Education is a major goal for all of Marcela’s family. Her father graduated from college in Mexico. Her two older sisters also graduated, making them the first in Marcela’s family to graduate from college in the United States. It wasn’t without a struggle, however.
Her father’s job required her and her family to move around a lot. They went from Tennessee in Canada to Wisconsin and back to Tennessee before putting down roots in Clayton when Marcela was just 9 years old.
Being so young, moving didn’t affect Marcela much. “I liked living in different places,” she said. It was not the same for his sisters.
They struggled to maintain their grades, sometimes due to the loss of transcripts from school to school. What has been true for Marcela’s sisters is that they never gave up, and she took notice.
She is also inspired by her parents’ commitment to providing a better life for her and her sisters. “They packed everything up, moved to a new country without knowing anyone and barely spoke the language,” she recalls. “They always found a way to make it work.”
That’s why Marcela juggles between studies and sport with laser focus and a positive attitude. “School is so important when it comes to finding your niche and what’s important to you,” she said.
Marcela is an honors student taking Advanced Placement and Johnston Community College (JCC) courses while also being a conference champion tennis player for the Clayton High Comets. “They both create new opportunities and have opened so many doors for me,” she said.
She thinks the social aspects of school such as sports, clubs or any extracurricular activity are just as important as academics. “It’s all about your upbringing,” Marcela said emphatically.
A Clayton High campus official, Principal Dr. Bennet Jones, said, “Marcela is a fantastic representative of not only Clayton High School, but Johnston County Public Schools and students across the state of Carolina. North. She embodies the Comets’ “ALL In” mentality in everything she does, excelling in the classroom, on the tennis courts, throughout the school and in the community. We are proud to have her as a student adviser to the State Board of Education, where she can continue to share her experiences and perspectives in advocating for all North Carolina public school students.
With sights set on life after high school, Marcela plans to spend a year in Canada as an au pair while completing her associate’s degree online at Johnston Community College. “I really want to get out of my comfort zone,” she said. She is taking French now to prepare.
After that, it’s at a four-year college where Marchela plans to major in journalism or physics. Never without her diary, she writes in it at least once a day. As for physics, “I really love equations,” she laughed.
Until then, Marcela will continue to make her mark at the CHS and at the state level with the advisory board.
“I’m really excited for the next two years,” Marcela said with a smile. “It’s amazing to think about.”