Leadership Council Holds First Meeting of the Year

Students+participate+in+a+group+discussion+about+school+issues+facilitated+by+Student+Government+members+Michelle+Zhang+and+Victoria+Zhu+at+the+Leadership+Council+meeting+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+16.+

Adrita Talukder

Students participate in a group discussion about school issues facilitated by Student Government members Michelle Zhang and Victoria Zhu at the Leadership Council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 16.

Adrita Talukder, Newspaper Editor in Chief

Student Government led the first Leadership Council (LC) meeting of the year on Thursday, Sept. 16, during the last block of the day. The introductory meeting provided an overview of the club and gave students an opportunity to speak on issues that they cared about within the school. 

The meeting kicked off with introductions from the Student Government officers. The team includes President Clarissa Theiss, Vice President Elana Laing, Secretary Isabella Caceres, Treasurer Victoria Zhu, Parliamentarian Michelle Zhang, and Advisor Andrew Merritt. 

After having students participate in an icebreaker, Zhu overviewed the work and goals of LC. 

“We focus on solving the problems and issues we see in the school, which involves community climate—so inclusivity and equity—we also provide feedback and analyze the policies to help change for the better, or even add and delete. We also promote responsible leadership here at State High,” Zhu said. 

Laing then took the lead, and informed attendees of the opportunities LC provides. Such opportunities include the Catalogue Mentoring Program, where LC members introduce 8th graders from Mount Nittany and Park Forest to opportunities at the high school, working to ease the transition from the middle to the high school level.

Theiss then briefly discussed the School Swap, an upcoming event for LC. 

“So this was a really cool opportunity we had [a few years ago, where] we paired up with another school and we did a swap. So we went there for a day, and we met with their student government, some of their student leaders, and their administration, and then they came here,” Theiss said. “This year, we’re gonna be partnering with Central Mountain, and that’ll be something we open to Leadership Council, and pick a few of you who want to come with us and have that experience. It’s awesome. It’s very cool to interact with other students in the state of PA.”

Following Theiss, Laing expanded on some of the additional LC opportunities, such as a potential food drive, upcoming community service projects, and leadership positions. The positions include Student Government officers, School Board and Borough Council Representatives, and Leadership Council Speaker.

Student Government poses for a photo. (Left to right) Michelle Zhang, Victoria Zhu, Isabella Caceres, Clarissa Theiss, and Andrew Merritt. Not pictured: Elana Laing (Adrita Talukder)

Elections for Student Government officers are in May, and Student Representatives will be selected through an application process in the late spring. This October, elections will open for LC Speaker, a position that includes a place on the LC board as a nonvoting member. The elected student will act as the representative for LC, speaking on how LC as a whole feels about Student Gov’s initiatives and projects. 

Following the discussion of the position, Laing opened the floor to students to set expectations and ground rules for the meetings. Zhang then discussed some changes that the officer team is hoping to pass in regards to the Student Government Constitution. 

There are four main changes to the constitution. The first concerns the previously mentioned leadership positions, and updating the constitution to include the newly created Borough Council Representative and new procedure for selecting the School Board Student Representative, which will now be done solely through an application and interview process. The second revision is the removal of obsolete requirements, such as the LC application form, and the need for a public debate should there be contested elections for officers. The third was the consideration of equity, which looks like changing the language in the constitution to be more inclusive and equitable and putting in safeguards to protect marginalized students. The final revision was to make the LC Speaker role more defined. Students on Leadership Council will be voting next week on the constitution. 

The last item on the meeting’s agenda was breaking into smaller groups for discussion. Discussions centered around a variety of school issues, such as academic supports in the classroom, school environment, COVID safety, the breakfast schedule, and hall pass policies, and will help Student Government determine what they will act on this year. 

The next Leadership Council meeting will be in mid-October, and those interested in joining can email Clarissa Theiss at [email protected].

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