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Rising to the challenge: Motivated senior leaders lead the way in building community service

Rising to the challenge: Motivated senior leaders lead the way in building community service

In our small, caring community, it’s usually been pretty straightforward finding student engagement opportunities. However, St. Anthony Village High School student engagement and community service projects have had low attendance for a few years, the pandemic partially intensifying the situation. That is, until a group of determined senior students – Andrea Suhyoun, Violet Urdahl and Alana McGrath – decided to take matters into their own hands. With a passion for making a difference in their community, they set out to create a new legacy for the Huskies. It wouldn't be easy – they would have to create some groups completely from scratch while facing challenges to rally their peers and make their mark on the school. However, the three believed in the brilliance of each student, knowing that they could embrace anyone and provide the space where they could be ever brighter. 

The pandemic, as we all know, upended many of our daily lives. The negatives of this time are not lost on anyone, especially our students. When asked how we, as a school district, could help them increase student engagement, the three seniors all posed the same problem: the pandemic stunted students’ willingness to engage, and to resolve that, it’ll take time and resources. 

All three are part of the National Honor Society (NHS) and are good friends. Each is a leader within a different student organization that appeals to their passion. For Alana, this means the revitalization of a mentorship program targeted at high schoolers to engage with elementary students.

“We have such a unique opportunity as a smaller school district to be able to foster and cultivate authentic relationship-building,” said Alana. With dreams of turning the mentorship program into a four-credit class, Alana hopes more opportunities such as these will crop up. 

For Violet, a vice president spot on student council has her thinking about ways to get students out of school, on weeknights and on the weekends, like dances, ice skating and such. 

“Coming out of Covid, I feel like I lost hold like we got our freshman year, but it really didn't feel like it,” said Violet.  “It was like those two years were kind of lost and I really wanted to make the most out of the time that I had left.”

For Andrea, her passion for the environment led her to join Green Team – a student organization aimed at improving the school’s environmental impacts. Composting, recycling, clothing drives – all these initiatives have been on the table for her group. 

“Alana and I kind of had to pave our way through what we wanted to do as far as student activities and it was so rewarding to come up with these activities on our own and to see that we've gotten very good feedback,” said Andrea. 

Over time, they said, the momentum to get involved will go back up. It just takes time, and consistent support. Students have to learn how to reconnect with one another. 

“It is a really great way to kind of build back up those connections that we really lost over our time and quarantine and in the pandemic,” said Alana. Through the mentorship program, students have someone they can look up to and give them encouragement, making it “mutually beneficial” and creating those relationships again.

Coming out of this pandemic, the three leaders have needed a lot of self-initiative. They are looking towards the people coming after them, motivating them to pass on their legacy and succeed. Are you ready to get involved? Here are some small steps you can take to get started: 

  1. Small steps lead to big impact. Start by participating in just one event. Student events are designed for students to meet each other, so it’s an awesome chance to get involved and meet other students. 

  2. Ease your way in by emailing senior leaders about opportunities. Visit our website to see what activities are available to you!

  3. Bring your ideas to student council meetings, who meet 2-3 times per month on Wednesdays during WIN A. Green Team also meets on Wednesdays during WIN A. Consider National Honor Society!

When Alana, Andrea and Violet graduate this spring, they want to leave knowing that they inspired other students to be brilliant leaders in their school community. 

“It just takes time. You have to give it time to grow and then people are like, yeah, I want to be a part of that, I'm willing to do the work,” said Violet. 

  • Ever Brighter