Homework. Practice. Rehearsals. Games. Club meetings. Repeat. Getting back into the school year is never easy for students with a boatload of not only academic work, but also extracurricular commitments. Waking up at 6:30 a.m., rushing to school, taking a few tests and endless pages of notes is only the beginning of a high school student’s day. Speeding off to sports practice or rehearsal right after school, staying up late finishing homework and studying for tests, and then finally snagging a few hours of sleep before 6:30 a.m. rolls around again, is an average day for many students.
As someone who has been lucky to be involved in leadership for several clubs, kicking off the school year also means a bustle of planning and meetings. Watching over a dozen excited juniors run for the NHS junior board led me to reflect upon what it means to be a leader in a club. What is student leadership? What responsibilities does it entail? What does it mean to be a “good” leader?”
Although being a leader in high school is nowhere near the same level as being a CEO or president, student leaders are given the chance to develop important leadership skills and put them into practice. Understandably, student leaders often have a narrow, short-sighted view of their leadership position. I think we would be lying to ourselves if we denied that the ever present thought of college applications has no impact on whether or not we run for leadership. I think there is a happy medium between being motivated to get involved in leadership partly for college and being on leadership because you actually care about the club and want to help make it the best it can be.
I’ve heard students describing leadership as “politics” and “a popularity contest,” but that is further from the truth than you’d think. In my experience, members who’ve shown genuine passion for the club and a desire to actually get things done once elected have been the most successful in winning elections in various clubs.
Student leadership should not be viewed as a snazzy title or just a resume booster. Ideally, it can, and should be used to help out the club sponsors, add meaningful activities, make much needed improvements, keep things organized, inspire members and boost club morale. Student leadership has so much untapped potential and it’s up to those who hold leadership positions to decide whether they will go that extra mile to bond with a club member, create a welcoming environment, volunteer for an event that no one else will, or buckle down and count hundreds of ballots.
Whether you are already in leadership or are thinking of joining in the future, I challenge you to only run for leadership in clubs that you’re passionate about and already really involved in. I challenge you to not passively perform duties, but to be thoroughly involved. I challenge you to truly change your club for the better and leave it at least twice as great as you found it.