Daniel Johnson’s leadership on the football field was inspiring during the Ridgeland High School Panther’s historic playoff run, which culminated in a state championship game.
“We have seen a huge surge in community pride with the football team,” Johnson said. “That just carries over into the classroom when you have more kids graduating and more kids doing great extra-curricular things. That’s a reflection of the community, the parents and the administration. I’m just blessed to be a part of it.”
His academic pursuits and performance is also equally noteworthy, as he recently became the second student from that school to be accepted to Harvard University.
Johnson’s senior project to become a junior school board member gives insight to the “team player” that he strives to be in all that he does.
“Ridgeland High School has afforded me opportunities that have changed my life,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the public education system and being able to do all of the things that I have done. I want every student to have the same opportunities that I have had.”
He got the idea while attending the Untied States Senate Youth program.
Walker County superintendent of schools Damon Raines liked the plan and encouraged the students of LaFayette High School to select their representative.
“Because of his senior project, I was afforded this pretty nice opportunity to learn more about the (school system) process,” Chad Wallin said. “I am hoping to get feedback from my fellow classmates on things we think our school could really use.”
“I’m looking forward to working with these gentlemen. They will be at (school) board meetings and the planning sessions,” superintendent Raines said.
He wanted to bring a student’s perspective to the monthly school board meeting.
“It’s for us to learn more about the democratic process and about how schools are run,” Johnson said. “ Also, in case the (school) board needs a student’s opinion. It’s progressive and a way we can help students.”
“Our faculty seems to get more student-oriented every year,” Wallin said. “In all of my AP and honors classes that I have had, I’ve always noticed that my teachers are there to build a relationship with their students and not just to teach. I feel that has really helped me and countless other students.”
The two seniors have benefited from an enriched mentor philosophy that teachers have successfully adopted to build a connection with students that transcend the classroom.
They will attend the remaining monthly school board meetings and planning sessions for this school year.
“I hope this will be an ongoing project,” Johnson said, his top priority being that junior school board members from each of the two high schools continue to serve for years to come.