HENRY HAGGARD | MAY 1, 2018
A few weeks ago, I joined my fellow representatives of the Tuckahoe Middle School Student Council at the Virginia Student Council Association convention in Virginia Beach and it completely changed my thinking about the world around me.
The convention was based around the theme “lighting the fire of leadership”, and at it, four to five hundred middle and high school students assembled to learn how to be leaders in their schools and communities. We had energetic activities such as pep rallies, elections, and parties, along with more serious things such as speeches, charity work, and resolution debates. The pep rallies practically shattered my eardrums, and I was somehow in charge of cleanup at the parties, but to quote an anonymous participant, “It was lit.” On the serious side of the convention, things managed to be just as fun.
We all learned a lot about Student Council, and more specifically, we learned a lot about leadership. And even in the personal and governmental hell of the Trump era, I made many realizations that have changed my ways of being a leader, both in and out of school.
My favorite activity was the presenting of resolutions, which was a time for me to give a speech. Basically, three voting members from each school were required to participate and vote, and everyone else had optional participation with no ability to vote. I was not one of the voting members, yet I still came so I could convince people to vote one way or another on one resolution. The resolutions came from the House of Delegates, and if the voting delegates passed it, a statement would be added at the bottom that is something along the lines of “The Virginia State Student Council Association approves this resolution to be passed.” I gave my speech in hopes to prevent unfair discrimination in schools, and to my surprise, I received an extended applause.
Not only did my speech help the resolution pass through VSCA, it also gave me confidence, which I have found can sometimes outweigh skill. This confidence, just like the confidence I got after winning election as student treasurer, helped me in the future.
Convention helped me learn to prioritize my own mental health over schoolwork and everything else. I had so much fun and learned so much in that low-stress situation, I realized that could be the same with everything I do. I think I have found the perfect balance of caring too much about everything and caring too little. I also learned to care about the present and future more than the past.
Anyone can lead others, but I think it’s something special to be able to lead yourself.
Students in SCA had a variety of perspectives on Convention and leadership. Council executive Nate N described it as a great time, “SCA is a load of fun. There is never a dull day and the trip to VA beach is exciting and interesting.”
Another student leader, Monze, described it as intellectually beneficial in addition to fun, saying, “SCA is a really great way for people to express their thoughts, as well as we have lots of fun thinking of ideas for a better school.” Emmett used his comment to highlight the social value he finds at SCA. “It’s amazing that there’s a place I can go to discuss and talk to like-minded individuals. Everyone in SCA brings something new to the table, making every day more interesting than the last.”
Tuckahoe SCA President Maddie Cassidy spoke to the importance of student council in her remarks, saying, “Student council is a great way to help our school and see our impact as we go around handing out treats, planning events and doing any tasks needed. The SCA is such a positive environment where I feel welcome to share my ideas and have a pick me up whenever I go to the class. This positive environment is even more strongly represented at the state student council convention where we can collaborate with other schools and come back with better ideas and ways to help our school. SCA is one of my favorite times of the day and I am so glad to be a part of it.”
But SCA doesn’t define leadership. Anyone outside of SCA needs to know that lighting the fire of leadership for them and others still matters, and failing to do so is okay, but not trying in the first place is outright stupid. It’s never too early, and it’s never too late to be the change you want to see in the world, even in our current time of Hell.
People may say that my generation is that of snowflakes and wimps, but I’d argue the opposite. Our generation has fought tooth and bone against the oppression and populism that is once again rising in our nation and around the world. Our generation is still battling a failing economy, a corrupt government, climate change, outdated laws, racial injustice, and the nazism and hatred that prevails in our community to this day. I’d say that the fear mongers and bigots are attempting to take back our nation, while we are the ones redefining it. This truly is leadership in Hell.
Image By: Vivienne Lee