How Student Government Supports Intentional Student Leadership in South LA
“The quality of a leader cannot be judged by the answers he gives, but by the questions he asks.” – Simon Sinek
At Ánimo South Los Angeles Charter High School (ASLA), being in a student leadership position, like Panther Student Government (PSG), means listening to the people around you. Asking thought provoking questions to fellow students and community members outside the school helps student government members serve the community needs. Student government members at ASLA know this well.
Unlike at many schools, student government at ASLA is not based on social reputation or how much students are revered by their contemporaries. To be considered for student government, students must first be nominated by a staff member or educator. Nominees are then asked to reflect on their capacity to lead, their personal stories, and the people who have impacted their lives. “Being part of student government helps me get involved in school events and help around the school,” says PSG member, Alexis Serpas. “By being the voice for the students, I’m able to be a role model and lead by example,” Serpas adds.
Students can choose to write an essay about an individual person who has impacted their lives. Essays are meant to preserve and share stories that highlight the connections that exist between people. Becoming student government members teaches students leadership skills and helps them better understand the people in their lives and themselves — and to learn to ask the important questions that need to be asked.
Some students use this assignment as an opportunity to reflect on the most significant choices family members have made and to uncover more about the people in their lives who inspire them the most. Senior Sierra Brown selected her best friend — her father. “[It was] an opportunity to get answers to the questions that I have always wanted to ask,” she said.
“I chose to interview my father because he is responsible for the person that I’ve grown up to be,” said Brown.
For Daniel Rodriguez, his brothers have always been influential figures in his life. “I chose to write about my older brother because he opened my mind to the many options after high school,” he says.
“He decided to join the military, which worked for him. I know I don’t want to join the military. I’m going to attend college because that’s a choice I made long ago.”
Student leadership is not taken lightly — students are well aware that upon accepting a leadership role they will be held to a higher standard, but this only fuels their passion. Student government members gladly step up to leadership opportunities in order to represent fellow students. Student government is not merely ancillary to high school, it is a core part of preparing every student for college, leadership, and life.
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