If you ask Petal High School senior Renthony Wilson, he’d tell you that his accomplishments come from one place: God.
That’d be the case whether you were talking about Wilson being named drum major and first chair alto sax at Petal High School – or more recently, being selected by the Mississippi Department of Education to serve on the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council.
“It was God’s will; it was the way He had it planned out for me,” Wilson said. “Just like being Petal’s … drum major, I feel like he had the steps laid out for me.
“I don’t expect anything to be handed to me; I work for everything that I get. So I guess you could say it came as a surprise.”
The student advisory council, which includes students in 11th and 12th grades – or in the first year of college – is overseen by Carey Wright, who serves as the State Superintendent of Education. The members, who can serve a term of two school years, are tasked with providing a forum for Mississippi’s students to offer diverse opinions to Wright.
More than 200 students from across Mississippi completed the initial application step for the council, and 76 submitted complete applications. Among those, 44 students were selected.
They will join the 85 students who are returning to the council from the previous school year or who qualified for the council by becoming a semifinalist for the junior Mississippi State Board of Education representative.
In his role on the council, Wilson will be able to share his opinions and advice about educational opportunities and policy in Mississippi with Wright.
“I am looking forward to advocating for our students that are very, very stressed out,” Wilson said. “To be honest with you, it’s not in our district, but while our teachers and the administration do care, it doesn’t always show.
“They do a lot of things for us, but a lot of times, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna do well,’ and then pile a whole bunch of work on us. So I’m very excited about being able to voice that to Dr. Wright."
Wilson, who is from Brookhaven, moved to Petal in January for more educational opportunities.
“I just needed a stronger educational background, and Petal has more opportunities for me to grab a hold of,” Wilson said. “Like the State Superintendent’s Advisory Council, I had no clue that even existed.
“I could have done that my junior year, but since I left Brookhaven, I didn’t know anything about it.”
Although Wilson has only been in the school district for less than a year, he feels his time there will serve him well on the advisory council.
“It has impacted my life tenfold,” he said. “I would have come here earlier; I would have been much, much more prepared for it. I was having an issue with choosing which school district I wanted to go to, but I went ahead and chose Petal and I don’t regret that decision at all.
“Before I moved here, I was told that I wasn’t going to do as well as I wanted to – I was never going to be drum major or first chair. I got here and I worked, and I actually achieved both – I’m the first chair alto sax and I’m also the drum major for Petal High School Band.”
Wilson’s first meeting on the advisory council will be held virtually on Nov. 3.
“Our district is proud to have an exceptional student leader like Renthony Wilson represent our school and state,” said Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District. “He will be an excellent addition to the council, and I know he will serve them well.”
Wilson is currently taking AP Literature, AP Physics and General Science II. Upon graduation, he plans to attend a Historically Black University to major in Healthcare Management or Nursing – or both – with the end goal of becoming a neonatal surgeon.
“My recent clinical rotations at Mimi’s Playhouse here in Petal, I got to hang out with some of the kids and I really enjoyed it,” Wilson said. “My little cousin, he’s five months old right now, and I really enjoy playing with him and babysitting him.
“So my clinical rotations at Mimi’s Playhouse is what made me realize that I wanted to do something with (pediatrics).”