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Two Napa High Students Selected to Shape the Future of Education

As students returned to school for their second semester of the 2021-2022 school year, Dr. Ean Ainsworth, principal of Napa High, received some impressive news. Two Napa High students were selected to serve as members of the first Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond. Atticus Fisher and Luisa Ortega Subdiaz, alongside nine others students from across the state, will have the opportunity to shape the future of education in California.

Dr. Ainsworth put this selection in perspective saying, “It would have made my week to hear that one of my students received this honor. After all, there are over 1.5 million high school students in California, so to have two is incredible!”

Luisa and Atticus have known each other since childhood as members of the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, however, neither knew that the other had applied. When they logged into their first meeting, both were a little nervous because, as Luisa expressed, “It is easy to forget that they are all 17 years old, just like you.” Their nerves were eased a little when they spotted one another in Zoom. Luisa joked that “it felt like we made eye contact through the screen.” 

It is easy to see why Luisa and Atticus were selected for the YAC. Their journeys through K-12 education are impressive and they both will bring unique perspectives to their advisory roles. 

Atticus has maintained an impressive 4.54 GPA. and in his new role, he plans to draw upon meaningful relationships and experiences in K-12 education. Before Napa High, Atticus attended Browns Valley Elementary School and River Middle School. He affectionately recalled several teachers that had a significant impact on his development during those years. His first-grade teacher, Jane Rowland, and kindergarten teacher, Marian Moffett, helped him overcome a sensitivity to sound. In middle school,  Mary Lynn Bryan, who Atticus described as “warm and full of love,” was a teacher he felt a strong connection to, and he believes “the impacts that a caring teacher can have on a student’s life cannot be overstated.”  Growing up as the child of a high school science teacher, also broadened his insight into K-12 education. 

His experiences in extracurricular activities will also come into play. He is currently the Concertmaster of the Napa High band where he plays the tuba and trombone, the vice president of Choir, and the pianist for Napa High’s spring production of Little Shop of Horrors. 

Like Atticus, Luisa is academically accomplished with a 4.4 GPA and also maintains an impressive schedule of extracurricular activities. She attended Napa Valley Language Academy and Harvest Middle School, following NVUSD's dual language immersion pathway into high school. Central to her journey is her growth as a leader and she credits her high school Spanish teachers for helping her “understand how to be Latina and a leader.” Her extracurricular activities also helped her grow as a leader as she was recently recognized as an All-American for the Napa High Spiritleaders. 

However, Luisa’s volunteer work in mental health, as Co-President for Bring Change to Mind (BC2M), has prepared her most for this role. Notably, she serves on the California Advisory Council for BC2M and provides regular contributions to the Napa High weekly newsletter about mental health issues. In reflecting on the relationship of this volunteer work to her new role,  she said, “it has created opportunities for me to get to know a diverse group of students at Napa High, and I hope to draw upon those perspectives as an advisor on the YAC.”

As members of the first Youth Advisory Council, Luisa and Atticus have a unique opportunity to set the direction for the group. We look forward to seeing how their input and leadership shape the future of education in California.

Two Napa High Students