By Reginald Stuart
NASHVILLE, TN — Christine Tran, a student at the James Lawson High School in South Nashville, has been appointed student member of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Board, the board announced late last month.
Student board members hold non-voting positions but can weigh in during Board discussions and debates, the public school system said. Tran’s first meeting will be in September.
Tran was appointed after selection committee members of the school system reviewed applications and interviewed rising juniors from across the district for the position, the board said in a statement. Tran, a rising junior at James Lawson, will join Alayna Mitchell, a rising senior at Hillsboro High School, in representing more than 80,000 students in 2023-24. She will succeed Abenezer Haile, who graduated last month from Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School.
Tran, who will serve a two-year term on the Board until she graduates in 2025, started the Asian Youth Club to celebrate Asian culture at Hillwood High School. The school closed recently as James Lawson High School prepares to open with the start of the 2023-24 school year. The school’s new building opening ribbon cutting is set for this week. She will continue to lead the new club at James Lawson. Tran also has tutored younger students and has participated in Model United Nations, Youth in Government, the Hillwood band and the debate team.
“I want to make an impact on my community and speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves,” Tran said. “.. I thought this position would be the perfect way to do so. I’m excited to have been selected and look forward to representing my peers,” she said.
The Board of Education, which has nine elected members, started appointing student members again in 2021-22, starting with Angelie Quimbo, who was a senior that year and now attends Duke University, and Haile, who was a junior and now is getting ready to start college at New York University. Mitchell joined Haile on the Board in 2022.
“I am so thrilled to welcome Christine Tran to the school board,” Mitchell said. “Christine is a dedicated and energetic leader who has proven to be a problem-solver within her school community. I believe that Christine will continue the meaningful work that Abenezer has done while also bringing in a fresh, new perspective. I’m sure Christine will do great things during her time on the school board, and I can’t wait to start working with her!”
“We had a wonderful amount of candidates from every corner of our district come and interview with us,” Haile said. He said each candidate “made me more proud” the of Metro Public schools “and how many future leaders it’s helping enrich every day.
Board Member Abigail Tylor led the selection committee, which ultimately interviewed four finalists before selecting Tran.
“We had strong applicants from across the district, and the selection committee had a difficult time narrowing it down,” Tylor said. “I’m delighted by the many determined students I met during this process and am looking forward to maintaining connections while they also work to improve both MNPS and Nashville. Our final four came from each quadrant of MNPS. Abenezer and Alayna were involved in every step of the process, and their input was critical in the final decision.
“Our prior student board members have set the bar high, and I’m excited to see how Christine and Alayna will collaborate to continue that excellent work,” said Haile. “Christine is passionate about representing student voices and has practical problem-solving experience in how to make changes. I’m looking forward to supporting her in this role!”
Director of Schools Dr. Adrienne Battle said she’s looking forward to working with Tran and seeing what she’ll bring to Board discussions.
“I’m excited to welcome Christine to the Board and look forward to watching her grow into the position and match the passion and insight of her predecessors in the months and years ahead,” said Dr. Battle. “I know she and Alayna will capture and represent the voices of our wonderfully talented, skilled and diverse student body.”