Editor’s note: On a periodic basis, this section will feature teachers and schools from across Union County, describing what goes on in their classes. This week, we look at the Student Council for Sun Valley High.
It’s not by accident that Sun Valley High School’s student council has made a name for itself throughout the southeastern United States. It comes from hard work and dedication, not only on the part of its students, but the support of the school’s principal as well.
Sun Valley Principal, Janice Burns, was named by the North Carolina Association of Student Councils as the Administrator of the Year, highlighting her dedication and support of the school’s student council.
“I was elated,” she said about receiving the award. “This recognition is really more about the students. They put a lot into the organization. They do a lot for the school and the community.”
Burns said she was happy to be a part of the council, adding the students in the group always make her feel welcome, even copying her on emails to discuss school activities.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of students,” Burns said.
The school’s student council advisor Josh Wall nominated Burns for the award.
“Ms. Burns always has a positive outlook, and encourages our faculty and staff to strive for excellence, to go the extra mile, and to think outside the box in attempting to reach all students,” Wall said. “Her eternal optimism, attention to detail, the ability to give praise, the ability to have us take a step back and take a deep breath before we proceed, has taught the advisor and the student council members invaluable life lessons.”
The council’s most recent accomplishment was to win the bid to host the Southern Association of Student Council conference, which had not been held in North Carolina for more than 30 years. Student councils traveled from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia to attend the three-day conference.
Individual SVHS’s student council members are also making a name for themselves. Hannah Hoang, 16, SVHS sophomore class president, was recently elected as the president-elect for the North Carolina Association of Student Councils. She will take the post in 2012.
“When I started student council my freshman year I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” Hoang said. “I would never speak my opinions because I was always afraid to say anything. But student council built up my confidence. My freshman year, I would never have seen myself running for the NCASC president in North Carolina, but here I am.”
Courtney Crego, 17, SVHS’s senior class president, has a similar testament about her experience on the school’s student council. “I always joked that I came to high school a loner and now I’m senior class president,” she said. “That’s a huge jump. The leadership skills I’ve gained through being on student council and through serving as an officer will help me in college and in life after college.”
The student organization isn’t just focused on the big picture, members said. They also look to help in their own back yard. The organization is credited with building bridges between students at SVHS, which has a very diverse population.
An example is the Black-Out Dance, which targets those students who don’t normally get involved in school dances or athletic events.
“We’re all dancing together,” Hoang said. “We’re all doing the same thing. It builds bridges because they feel connected.”
“The dance was an awesome idea to capture a group of students who may not feel connected to the school,” Burns said. “Now they feel connected to the school. The student council is always looking for more things to do to help others, even when their plate is already full.”
All proceeds from the Black-Out Dance, attended this year by about 400 students, went to Victory Junction.
Burns said she is honored to receive the NCASC award, but gives credit to her student council members for being second to none. “This is one of the most active student councils that a school could have,” she said. “The things they do are vital to the community and vital to the nourishment of the school.”