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Schools: WHS council enters second decade as best in class
By Charles Swenson
Student council teaches leadership and one of the hard lessons, Richard Rasheed said, is “the most complaints come from people with the most voter apathy.”
But there is little to complain about with the Waccamaw High Student Council. It has now entered its second decade as the state Class A-AA Council of the Year. The seniors on the council were only in first grade when the school won for the first time.
Council elections will be held once students return from next week’s spring break. The current council has already started the process to help their successors claim the title for a 12th year in a row.
“We try not to let that be what drives our bus,” Julie Humowitz, the council advisor and head of the history department, said. It’s hard, though, because what earns the WHS council awards from the S.C. Association of Student Councils is its activities, both in the school and the community. “We never take a break,” Banks Lucas, a senior and the council president, said.
“They have such an impact on the climate and community of our building,” principal David Hammel said. “They stand between the administration and the students.”
The council puts on award programs such as those for sports teams. They organize pep rally and homecoming. They sponsor blood drives. They held a “shoe drive” in a competition with Georgetown High, collecting over 100 pairs that were donated to the Salvation Army. This week, they organized an Easter egg hunt for the special-needs students. “We take on a lot of things teachers do in other schools,” Lucas said. That includes scheduling events, said Berkley Lane, the council vice president. “No teachers have to do that,” she said.
The council members get input from classmates at lunch, in the halls and on social media. “We try to reach out,” Lane said.
One thing they got complaints about was the themes for the homecoming week dress-up days, Peyton Johnson, the junior class representative, said. “One got shot down for obvious reasons,” Rasheed explained.
Hammel has the last word on all decisions, and Lucas meets with him regularly. If she goes in with talking points in support of the council’s ideas, “he is more accepting,” she said.
“They’ve helped shape some of our policies throughout the year,” Hammel said.
He pointed out that one constant in the council’s 11-year award streak is its advisor. “Julie does such an incredible job guiding them as leaders,” he said.
“I’ve had some great support,” Humowitz said. “It’s a collaborative effort.”
She said students often come to the council with leadership experience in church or other organizations. Waccamaw Middle is also doing more with its council. “We have kids who want to be involved,” Humowitz said.
Council members said it takes an effort to run for office. No one likes the idea of losing. “Putting yourself out there, you learn from it whether you win or lose,” Lane said.
“Michael Jordan said, ‘I failed over and over in life, that’s why I succeed,’ ” Rasheed said. “That might not be an exact quote.”
It comes back to leadership, Humowitz said. “Leadership is taking an active role,” she explained. “You want to be part of the solution.”