Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen often meets with other districts' administrators and external experts about best practices.

But he also listens to those he serves: the approximately 15,600 students in the district's 23 buildings.

Once a month, Marschhausen sits down with student advisory council of 24 students, who have a chance to share their concerns, provide feedback on policies and even effect change.

The council was established by Marschhausen's predecessor, former superintendent Dale McVey.

"The student council allows me the opportunity to hear what our students have to say ... it is important they have a voice," Marschhausen said.

The student advisory council is similar to other councils, such as those for parents.

The council provide a chance "to hear various views on similar topics," Marschhausen said.

In some instances, such as establishing a schedule for final exams last year at the three high schools, the decision was "a direct result of my conversations with the advisory council," he said.

The 24 students on the advisory council include one boy and one girl from each class at Bradley, Darby and Davidson high schools.

The students meet monthly with Marschhausen and occasionally other administrators during a lunch hour at the district's administrative offices at 2140 Atlas St.

Students typically serve all four years of high school on the advisory council.

Each spring, teachers at the three middle schools nominate two eighth-graders to join the council as freshman and maintain their membership until graduation. By then, Marschhausen said, he often has developed a close rapport with the students.

Alec Fratturelli, a Darby junior, said he enjoys being a member and hearing the perspectives of students at the other two high schools.

"It's kind of like being an ambassador to our class," said Fratturelli, whose teachers at Heritage Middle School nominated him.

Darby senior Durya Nadeem said she enjoys collaborating with students from other schools and having the chance to discuss policy changes with Marschhausen.

Kelly May, a Davidson senior, said being a member of the council has been "an eye-opening experience" and also fun.

"When I first started attending my freshman year, I was super shy and felt like my opinions didn't really make much change," May said. "However, (since then) I have been able to break out of my shell and learn to stand up for things I believe in (and) to help make differences that impact the district."

May said the council "helped modify the exam schedule so students (aren't so stressed) due to the spring semester being full of standardized testing and exams on top of it."

Bradley senior Lani Rohrer said being on the council has been "rewarding."

"Each time we meet, we are able to work with students from other high schools as well as the superintendent to help better our school district and community," Rohrer said. "I love making connections with the other students and being part of something that will help others in the long run.

"By being a part of this council, you have to learn to step up and be a leader because you help represent not only your school, but the voice of the students."

In addition to being both a voice and an ear for Marschhausen, students on the council collaborate on community-service projects.

For example, students collected donations of canned food for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank on Feb. 13 at Darby just before a basketball game against Bradley.

"We might have some rivalries as a district, but we come together for common causes on the council," Nadeem said.

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