The Upper St. Clair High School Student Council recently earned the National Council of Excellence Award from National Student Council.
To earn the award, a high school student council must present evidence of meeting 23 required indicators that cover topics including governance, service, activities and operations, and civic engagement and student voice. Leading the effort for Upper St. Clair student council was RJ Shontz, president of the class of 2022.
“At the very beginning of our council’s work to be named a National Council of Excellence, we quickly realized that we did not meet all of the 23 indicators that were necessary to earn this award. However, this provided us with the opportunity to outline our year and work hard to meet each indicator of an advanced student council,” Shontz said. “It was important to achieve the National Council of Excellence status because along the way it helped us identify our weaker areas and put us on the right track to be on par with our nation’s top councils.”
Shontz said the most efficient way to have a positive impact on students’ high school experience is through cooperation between the adults and students.
“The most important role that our student council serves is actively being that strand of communication and connecting the student body and our school’s administration,” he said. “We are thankful that our building principals do not solely make decisions from their perspective, but also take into consideration our input that we gather from the student body.”
Upper St. Clair High School Student Council includes 70 students in ninth through 12th grades who plan countless school and community activities.
“Whether it is setting up for homecoming, overseeing the 70-plus clubs in our school, or planning community day, all of our differing initiatives fall under our one mission statement: Unite voices, Serve the community, Commit to Progress,” Shontz said. “We are often asked the question, ‘What does student council even do?’ The answer is that we work to make a student’s short four years in our high school the best they can possibly be.”
Upper St. Clair High School Student Council is sponsored by Brooke Tarcson, activities coordinator.
“Student council is completely student-led and run,” Tarcson said. “The executive board creates the agenda, the president or vice president run the meetings, and the students all work together to accomplish goals. There are many meetings where I sit in the back and just watch in awe as these students get more done in a weekly 50-minute meeting than I could ever imagine.”
She said she is inspired by student council members’ positive outlook.
“They are constantly coming to me with ideas on how to improve our school and make a difference in the world,” she said. “We’ve supported wellness, kindness, stress, school spirit, food and clothing drives, as well as assisting and supporting the school’s U-THON and No Place for Hate committees.”
National Student Council provides and promotes leadership development opportunities to prepare and empower student leaders to serve their schools and communities.
For more information, visit www.natstuco.org.