The Oracle

Standing up for beliefs crucial in student leadership

PROUD PRESIDENT:  Labeling a box of donated food, 2017-2018 Student Body President Abby Grant talks things over with junior Matthew Baumstark. Grant oversaw changes to the canned food drive, amongst other revisions made this year.

Sam Parsons

PROUD PRESIDENT: Labeling a box of donated food, 2017-2018 Student Body President Abby Grant talks things over with junior Matthew Baumstark. Grant oversaw changes to the canned food drive, amongst other revisions made this year.

Abby Grant, senior editor

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Four years ago, I sat in South’s auditorium at freshman orientation and watched the then-Student Body President coordinate the assembly while radiating energy and speaking confidently. It was that day I decided I wanted to become the Student Body President for Glenbrook South one day.

About four years later, I now stand upon that stage where I once admired the beauty of what the position entails, encapsulating that very essence. This year, I’ve been blessed to emcee the pep rally and sports assemblies, introduce a new homecoming and canned food drive, meet handfuls of new students, delegate responsibilities to my Council and much more.

The job has been everything I’ve dreamed of. While it is bittersweet to end this priceless journey which I’ve embraced to its fullest, it is about that time where I’ve started reflecting on the experience. For the past month, I have been learning from a recent conflict which occured in Student Council.

Around winter of this year, it was brought to my attention that a new system for electing the Executive Board of Student Council was to be implemented. People could run for as many positions as they’d like now. At that time, I conveyed the concerns I had about this new system. Being a senior, mentally occupied by final exams and college applications, I mistakenly shoved this conversation into the back of my head.

Just before these forms became available, the other members of Executive Board, advisor and I held a meeting regarding the new voting system and invited juniors interested in running to attend this informational session. After this meeting, the junior’s concerns about the system began to accumulate nearly out of nowhere.

From this moment on, the learning began; I began to anticipate potential concerns of my peers before they caught fire. Although a lot of “what if” scenarios were being questioned, it was evident that a majority of the Student Council was disheartened not only with the new voting system, but their lack of say in the new decision. I felt the same way; but more importantly, I felt like I had let them  down.

Mistake two I learned from: don’t let anyone discourage you from pursuing the responsibilities you feel your role entails. It is important to know your responsibilities and rights as a student-leader. So, when there is conflict, you are able to have a direct, mature conversation with your advisor about their dissenting opinion.

Prior to executive elections taking place, my exec board and I called an emergency meeting to discuss the new voting system, how it was implemented, and if we’d like to see it implemented. During the meeting, I saw what I feared; there was injustice in how the system was implemented, and I felt I was responsible. I needed to do my job and fix it. 

In the midst of praise from my peers inside and outside of Student Council for defending student power in a student-led club, I received criticism from two people about how I handled the situation, both above me in age. I was welcoming to most of this criticism. While I was emotionally involved, and said comments I should’ve kept to myself, I realized something. The processes we followed in making these tough decisions, ranging anywhere from telling our parents the truth about something bad we did, to deciding how to handle a friend’s jaw-dropping secret, construct our guts and our truest intentions.

After the fire settled, I can single-handedly say it was my most enriching experience this year. I want to stress the importance of student leaders in being the sole constructors of their club’s culture and to take on this power without feeling guilty about it. Here, at Glenbrook South, what makes us different is the integral role students play in our activities, and I believe we should keep things that way.

Most sincerely,

Student Body President ‘17-’18

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Standing up for beliefs crucial in student leadership