The not-so-secret network of students running our schools

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Something unique to the high school experience is the presence of student leaders. Often operating behind the scenes, these students take on extra responsibility and work to gain the respect of their peers, while they attempt to bring about change to clubs, sports, or even the entire school. This past month, the Spartan Oracle brought fourteen student leaders together to discuss the role and weight of being a student leader at Orcutt Academy.

The term “student leader” can be vague. Generally, the student leaders on a high school campus are team captains, members of ASB, or the officers of a club. The responsibilities of these different students vary even more. Some activities require lots of organization from the leader, while others need a strong role model to set an example. Something every student leader on a high school campus has in common, however, is their importance to the group for which they are in charge.

In many cases, student leaders are completely crucial to their groups. For clubs such as the “class ofs”, National Honor Society, and California Scholarship society, students are in charge of organizing and putting together a large portion or meetings, events, and fundraisers. This is obviously also true of the ASB class and their leadership team who put together dances, rallies, and school spirit activities. On the flip side, leaders of groups such as marching band, drama, and sports have to set good examples for their group and end up teaching and leading in much more personal ways. Whatever their responsibility is, student leaders are often required for an activity to function correctly.

All of this is only exaggerated at a school such as Orcutt Academy High School where extracurricular activities are so important. According to the administration, around 90% of students at OA are involved in an extracurricular activity, requiring a greater amount of excellent leaders. Time after time, these leaders step up and do what needs to be done, and they certainly deserve the spotlight. Some of OA’s most important leaders got together to share their thoughts and experiences on leadership to help me tell their story.

Twenty-one prominent club and class leaders were invited to this discussion, and fourteen attended. When talking about how they got to their positions, many of these students agreed it was all about seeing opportunities and acting on them. In more concrete terms, senior NHS, CSF, and debate club officer Josie Allen explained: “For NHS, as a junior, I saw some flaws and I knew I could fix them, so I wanted to become a leader who could improve [NHS].” This is a sentiment many people in the room agreed with. Overall, the consensus was that student leaders are self-motivated: when they see opportunities to make changes, they take the initiative to make it happen.

While what these changes actually were differed from group to group, they mostly revolved around creating a more efficient group; one which provided more opportunities to its members. In ASB, as described by Brooke Stewart and ASB president Julia Herrera, student leaders quite literally create opportunities and events for the student body to get involved, get spirited, or find their voice. Another change a leader can make is simply taking on more responsibility to help their group. Drama stage manager Emily Hinkle reiterated this, explaining that she takes pressure off of her group so they can be more focused. “I am [a leader] so the actors can act, focus on their lines, and don’t have to worry about the bigger picture.” Student leaders not only identify what can be improved upon in their group, but actually take steps to make the improvements.

However, this initiative and leadership comes with cost: stress. Student leaders are obviously passionate and willing to sacrifice for their groups, but they still live full lives outside of them. These students are often involved with multiple extracurriculars and have balance school work as well. These factors combined can be too much and often cause major stress for a leader. ASB crew leader, Journalism Video Producer, and Freshmen Connect Crew leader Devon Vauclin tries to put a positive spin on this, however, saying that in the end, the stress and frustration pays off. He said that what keep him going as a leader is the outcome of his stress, so he tries to make the most of it. Class of 2019 president, NHS officer, and Yearbook Editor Celine Busnelli agreed, “You put so much effort into so many little things… and they all add up to one amazing outcome.”

Overall these students are the best of the best. They are self-starters who purposefully take on extra responsibilities to make change happen at their school. They have the ability to see where these changes can happen and take risks and make sacrifices to actually do so. Behind every great program is a great set of people; and behind them, or in front of them, is a great leader. Acknowledge student leaders whenever you can and work to give them the recognition they deserve.

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