Student voice 18 Sep 2018

The role of the student council

By Kaushal Tummala and Evan Lowe, grade 9 students (Lakeside)
Photograph by CIS Communications

After the 2018-19 student council was officially formed on August 28, it was time for newly appointed council members to hone their leadership skills. With this in mind, the executive team and teacher advisors organised a two-day leadership retreat from August 31 to September 1.

Why does the student council exist?

Representatives from grades 7 to 12 attended the retreat and the first question that Mr Jeff Smith, secondary principal, asked us was this: “why does the student council exist?” After much brainstorming, we came to the conclusion that the student council’s main responsibility is to promote community involvement and school spirit within the student body.

This was an important question because understanding the ‘why’ allowed us to envision the goals for the year ahead. The events we orchestrated and the assemblies we had presented at etc - we suddenly understood the purpose of it all. However, it was still critical to learn how to manage logistics as a leader.

Running effective meetings is one example. Mr John Kernis, secondary vice principal (grades 10-12), asked us to recall the most effective meeting that we had ever attended. He then went on to explain the various aspects of a well-run meeting. Mr Kernis reminded us to keep these elements in mind whenever we organise a meeting because it would help us work towards achieving the true purpose of the student council.

Next was Mr Geoff Ward, secondary vice principal (grades 7-9). He explained the various styles of leadership and taught us how to engage other students on a daily basis. To illustrate his point, he roped us into a game where we had to work together to ‘earn money’ in order to win. The game was fun, but the lessons it ingrained in us were even more important. In order to collaborate well with others and work as a democracy, leaders must be good listeners. For example, the quietest members of the group often had some great ideas that could help a leader and the group to succeed.

Getting to know each other

The next day, it was time to socialise! The executive team organised an icebreaker activity, which allowed us to ‘break the ice’ and make friends. After the activity, we split up into our respective committees so we could start identifying goals and possible action plans for the year ahead.

Planning ahead

Once we split into our respective committees, we started off by introducing ourselves to one another in another icebreaker. We are going to be working very closely together so it helped to know our colleagues on a more personal level. After that, some of our committee members suggested ideas that they believed would benefit the CIS community as a whole. This led to a brainstorming session where we had to come up with three long-term and short-term goals that we would strive to achieve during the school year. After we developed our action plan to everyone’s satisfaction, we presented to the rest of the student council where we received some useful feedback and comments.

Evan Lowe, a student council member from grade 9, said: “as a new member of the student council, I didn’t know what to expect. I was very nervous about the leadership retreat, but the friendly environment during the meetings and inclusion by the executive leads made the experience memorable. All the committees introduced some exciting ideas for the school year and I cannot wait to see them implemented.”

Indeed, we are all very eager to see what we could accomplish together as the student council!