High school student leadership staying busy
It’s 12:15, lunch is over and you still have to get through this class. Then you have another class. Survival mode kicks in, just get through the day you tell yourself.
Some students may view high school as a necessary battle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Park City High School (PCHS) Student Council is trying to make each school day a little more enjoyable, explained Shaun Livingston, student body president.
The student council is responsible for a myriad of daytime and after-school activities including homecoming events, prom, assemblies, tailgating before football games, and ice cream socials. Dolly Duke, council member, said that, for example, they will try to organize a dress-up week or neon-themed dance during the middle of winter when kids start to feel they’ve hit the doldrums.
With homecoming less than a month away, student council members are storming around, trying to get things in place for the weeklong celebration, during which they will be responsible for organizing many of the activities.
Student council meets every other day during regular scheduled class time. During a typical class, advisor Jess Morrison explained, students will convene to give updates about the projects they’re working on, then they split to go and do whatever they have planned, depending on what projects have pressing needs.
The incumbent student body president, Shaun Livingston, explained that he wanted to participate in student leadership because he saw untapped potential in the school. He explained that as a sophomore, he had a vague vision about not only the learning, but the memories and experiences that he and his classmates could experience during high school.
Livingston explained how last year, he spent almost half the school year planning prom. He said that when the night arrived, he spent much of the evening running around tying up loose ends, and he didn’t spend as much time as he should have with his date. He said that, in the end, reactions from students who had an unforgettable prom experience made his night special, too.
Livingston said that the student council’s goal is to bring pride back into the school. He wants to create something that makes students want to participate in school-sponsored events and not just come because they know there will be an after party.
Students involved school government put a lot of energy into making school more meaningful for their peers, and they’re learning unique lessons in the process, explained Morrison.
For those on student council, Morrison observed that many are involved in multiple activities. If you look around the room, you find the environmental club president, the student representative to the school board, a student campaigning to start a volleyball club, and a handful of other self-starters. These students are busy, but Morrison said that they must also keep their grades up, because academic performance is a requirement to remain on student council.
Some students learn unexpected lessons from student council. For instance, Morrison said his students hone business-like skills. The council brings in money through dances and other events, which goes into the sizeable budget that student council controls, explained Morrison.
Students are given the chance to manifest an idea from scratch, and Morrison said they bring a strong sense of ownership into the events they create. Some of the student council members said that when they attend events they helped organize, it’s more fun because they can appreciate all the details.
There are two routes students can take to be part of student council. Some students are elected, explained Elizabeth Tingey. She said that they must follow campaign rules such as spending limits, where they can hang signs, and what promotional items can be given away.
Anyone who wants to be student body president needs to plan ahead. The process starts by campaigning for junior vice president, which takes place at the end of a student’s sophomore year. The junior vice president will then take over as student body president the following year, when they become a senior. The student body president, junior vice president, junior representatives, sophomore representatives, and secretary/treasurer are positions students must campaign for.
Students can go a different route by submitting a resume and taking part in an interview process similar to applying for a job if they want an "applied position" on student council, explained Tingey.
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