September 8, 2008
-- Insider's Guide to High School --
By Rachel Miller
Junior Reporter, Youth Journalism International
Danville, Pa., U.S.A. Ė Life at a small high school is many different things. Sometimes, itís a pain knowing everyone, knowing everything, and never seeing a new face. Other times, itís cozy and comforting to know all of the students.
The biggest challenge at a large high school is creating opportunities to stand out, while in small high schools, some of these opportunities are just waiting for students to take advantage of them.
Iíve always wanted to be the student council president. With a small student body, my high school also has a small student council. Since sixth grade, Iíve dreamed of being the president Ė and now, as a senior, I am!
I held the secretarial position in both 10th and 11th grade, but still had a large amount of influence as a student leader. So far, especially with organizing an early Homecoming, this year has been a little hectic, but itís still an incredible experience to have the opportunity to influence administrative decisions and make a difference in the school.
This isnít about my student council presidency, but it is about is making a positive change in a school environment. Be proactive!
Last year, our school started a membership in Youth in Philanthropy, and I was elected president of our chapter.
Ask your principal about getting involved with an organization if it doesnít already exist in your school. Great things happen just by trying new things. Take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves, because these opportunities will lead any student to reach new, exciting heights. Donít know where to start? Here are some ideas:
Are you a busy, very involved person? If not, then consider trying out for a sport, or asking around to see what types of organizations exist in your school.
If youíre really passionate about something like the environment, student voting or animal activism, and the club doesnít exist, start your own!
The national chapters of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), FCCLA (Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America), FFA (Future Farmers of America), YiP (Youth in Philanthropy), and even local chapters Ė my school has a PLANET (nature protection club) Ė are all looking for new schools to be involved.
If you are a very busy person, consider testing the waters to judge which organizations you might like to devote more time to outside of school.
If you happen to really enjoy the club or organization and thereís an officerís position available, go for it! College admissions officers really like to see that students are motivated to take on leadership positions in school organizations, and also enjoy considering students who are willing to spend more time with a club than general members.
Get your friends involved. If youíre nervous about joining a new organization and trying something new, usually friends will never object if youíre in it together. Itís a great way to spend time with friends, and get more involved in school functions as well.
For the freshmen Ė donít worry about standing out as the new kid in school. Everybody was a freshman at one time, so donít shy away from opportunities due to a feeling of inferiority. Usually the leaders of most student organizations are very willing to incorporate new students into their clubs, so donít let your age deter you from joining.
Never give up an opportunity to make a difference. The student body will remember you if you make an effort to change something that the general body disagrees with.
Last year, students at my school werenít happy about the lunch menu and process of lunch lines. The student council worked with the food administration, the student body, and the board of administrators to change the food and the process, and within two weeks, changes were visible.
The student body appreciated our efforts, and the student council received a good reputation as the go-to organization for policy changes. You will feel an incredible sense of accomplishment if you work to make a difference in your school by getting involved in any organization.
High schools may differ by city, state and nation, but there is a universal approach that works: keep your head high, walk with confidence, and make a difference in your own, special way.
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