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Take Five with Kate’Lynn S., 2023–24 Honorary Student Board Member

08 September 2023

As the Honorary Student Board Member, Kate’Lynn advocates for student voice on behalf of herself and her peers.

A headshot of Kate'Lynn Shaw

Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many members of the CPS community who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here

Today, we are thrilled to spotlight Kate’Lynn S., a current junior at Kenwood Academy High School and our District’s 2023–24 Honorary Student Board Member. 

Kate’Lynn describes herself as a “school person”; she loves Kenwood and the community she has found there. When she was younger, Kate’Lynn mostly kept to herself. But once she got to Kenwood in seventh grade, her eyes were opened to the type of student leader she could become. Kate’Lynn started to dive headfirst into every opportunity that interested her, and quickly discovered a passion for student government, debate, and voice.

Kate’Lynn first heard about the opportunity to serve as the District’s Honorary Student Board Member through her high school counselor, Ms. Julie Stanton, who told her she would be perfect for the role. 

As the Honorary Student Board Member, Kate’Lynn represents the CPS student body by attending the monthly Chicago Board of Education meetings and advocating for student voice on behalf of herself and her peers.

The application process to become next year’s Honorary Student Board Member will open in the spring of 2024. All rising juniors and seniors at CPS who are interested in gaining leadership experience and shaping the future of the District are encouraged to apply. Visit for the Board’s full schedule of upcoming meetings.

What are your goals as this year’s Honorary Student Board Member?

I am here for students. I want to make sure all of our schools’ Student Voice Committees are strong and well supported, as well as explore how we can create more opportunities for kids to speak out about politics and cultural life. I am very interested in learning more about how CPS and our city’s systems interact and who has jurisdiction over what. I think it’s important to have a political philosophy, but we also need to be figuring out how to transform those ideas into material change. 

Which issues impacting CPS students are you most passionate about?

Environmental justice, and specifically water equity and our processes for checking for lead in pipes across the city. I am also passionate about funding equity, which comes from my firsthand experience attending a predominantly Black school. My peers deserve to have access to the resources and opportunities that will help them make the most out of their education.

What is your advice for CPS students who want to get more involved in their communities?

Be loud. Don't be afraid to be the person in the room who says what everyone else is thinking. Or better yet, be the person in the room who doesn’t talk the most, but who speaks up when it’s important. Don't be afraid of your own power—you have it for a reason, so use it.

What do you like doing outside of school?

I really like roller skating, and I’m a big reader. I read a lot of philosophy, and I love American gothic fiction. My favorite author is Toni Morrison. Also, my mom is a caterer and throws a lot of parties. I’ll help her with her events, but only with things that don’t involve touching the stove... I cannot cook. The last time I tried, I accidentally burned the noodles.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Working in water equity. I want to study chemical engineering at Yale and work in New York. I would also like to become a debate coach in some capacity, and I see myself potentially going to law school to work in criminal justice, or patents if I stay on the chemical engineering path.

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