Leadership training: Hancock’s student council president will have a seat

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Hancock High School Social Studies teacher Stephen Smith was one of the organizers of the student council debates. Once the ballots are cast and the president is elected, the council will be given a seat at faculty and board meetings, becoming the only school in the state of Michigan giving the student body a voice in issues and policies that effect them.

HANCOCK — The significance of the Hancock High School student council election is that the president will give a representative voice to the student body before both the faculty and school board, with Hancock being the only school in the state with such a program.

This new system of student government was introduced to the school by Principal Ezekiel Ohan.

“Mr. Ohan came to Matt Griffith and me with a mandate,” said Stephen Smith, social studies teacher. “The idea was to make this a meaningful process.”

In the past years, and not just at Hancock, the student council elections were basically a popularity contest, Smith said.

“Part of the process was to get people who can organize Spirit Week and organize different extracurriculars for the year,” he said, “But to really be a political force in the school, I think this is the first step.”

The first step was the primary election to select class offices of president, vice-president and treasurer, he said.

“And now we’re in the general election stage, where students will vote for those candidates (on Tuesday).” Smith explained. “One (of the four candidates) will become Student Council President, and the rest of them will still be on the student council and will be the equivalent of a representative.”

Stevens said the student council will have a voice at school board meetings and have a seat at faculty meetings.

“The intention is to give students a voice in the issues that are effecting them. We make decisions every day, in the classroom, in a faculty meeting, in a board meeting, that effect students. They may or may not go along with it. They may or may not have interest, or knowledge, then they’re upset or angry.”

Smith said in the past, student council members had presented to the board, or given reports to the board, but giving the council a seat at board and faculty meetings is “taking it to the next level, which I think is great.”

After the debate was over, Smith was impressed with and proud of the student candidates.

“Evidenced by today’s response, these kids were well-spoken,” said Smith. “There were a couple tough questions there, and they handled them really well, at times they were eloquent in their response.”