Last Friday, the Upper School held elections for the four Student Council positions: president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. In total, 17 students ran for the various positions and gave powerful speeches. In the end, the student body elected a strong leadership council that will take over for the start of the 2014-15 academic year.
So why were the winning candidates elected? What do our students look for in those that they choose to represent them? As the head of Upper School, I felt that each speech was designed to appeal to the masses… the Harrisburg Academy masses that is. This was not a popularity contest, by any means. The audience was respectful and quiet, really listening to each candidate in an effort to determine who was most deserving of their vote. Each contestant shared their ideas on how best to advance the Upper School and from the first speech, the standard was set. For example, a couple ideas proposed by the candidates included the implementation of a polling system and a new outdoors club.
When students participate in leadership roles they assume ownership of a program and invest the effort necessary to be a supporting member. Each day at the Academy, our students show leadership, such as when students run the Upper School Morning Meeting. A number of years ago, I ran the meetings. Assuming the role at the podium each day, I soon realized I was missing an opportunity for student involvement — now the Upper School morning meetings are completely run by students and each session is much more dynamic and fun. Other examples of student leadership opportunities in our Upper School are found in the co-curricular clubs and the athletics clubs and teams.
Building character starts with having high expectations. And it was evident, observing Upper School elections, that our students have high expectations of themselves, as well as their student leaders. As head of Upper School, I look forward to supporting and working with such an enthusiastic student council during another great year.