Wilton High School senior joins state student council

Wilton High School senior Matthew Ziluca has been selected to serve on this year’s State Student Advisory Council on Education (SSACE).

The Connecticut Department of Education appointed the SSACE in 1981, consisting of 19 randomly selected students from each congressional district.

“My guidance counselor told me about the position on the SSACE. The Board of Education sent a memo or something to the schools and they go through their guidance counselors and look for students who they think would be a good fit,” said Matthew, who originally applied for one of the two student position on the Connecticut Board of Education.

Each year, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor sends a notice to Connecticut superintendents, high school principals, guidance counselors, PTA presidents, and student council presidents, announcing the commencement of the search for student board members.

The SSACE reviews the applications and selects students to be interviewed in the spring — a process Matthew said is long and “pretty complicated.”

Matthew said the Connecticut State Board of Education wants SSACE student representatives like him to “voice their opinions.”

“We have a bunch of guest speakers come in from educational systems in Connecticut and we discuss the different issues Connecticut is facing on education,” said Matthew.

Each month during the school year, the SSACE meets with Commissioner Pryor to reflect on student concerns. This year’s first council meeting took place Sept. 23 in Hartford.

“We all met in the Connecticut State Department of Education building. We were there for a couple hours,” said Matthew.

“We first got to know each other, which was important because we’re all from different areas of Connecticut, and then a lady came to speak to us about the commissioner’s questions for us.”

Matthew said the SSACE has been broken up into three subgroups, each of which is in charge of researching one of three educational areas of focus this year.

“The first group works on how to integrate community service into curriculums without making it too hard on students to complete or without taking away the importance of community service,” said Matthew.

“The second group looks at rescheduling the school day, which is the group I’m part of, and the last group looks at new ways of getting new standardized test results and new ways of administering them.”

Matthew said he decided to apply for the SSACE position because he wants to help influence school policies.

“Being a student, we get to experience firsthand a lot of policy that’s created that affects us, but oftentimes we don’t get a say in it,” he said.

“So getting the offer from my guidance counselor to apply for the council really interested me because I could potentially impact the views and policy itself.”