Break the Stigma
NASSP has launched the student-led NHS Student Leadership Network on Mental Health to address student mental health needs and engage students in discussing and acting on pressing topics such as the shared challenges of mental health in the pandemic age. Students create agendas for monthly virtual meetings and plan a fall conference, which cushions their own mental health and coalesces to take the sting out of the stigma around seeking help in their schools and communities. Future networks will track other topics that motivate students. As the concept progresses, NASSP’s flexible platform and virtual-meeting technology will allow students to convene around evergreen subjects or timely pop-ups and participate in peer networking and community building.
Carmelli Leal, a Columbia University student and former NASSP Student Leadership Advisory Committee member, shares the importance of incorporating student voice and advocacy on important issues such as racial equity, climate change, and food insecurity. She explains how student council, from the elementary level through high school, provides students like her the opportunity to be heard. She reflects on how students can better connect to their communities by volunteering on political campaigns, registering to vote, setting up voter registration drives, and raising awareness for issues they feel are important in their schools.
Combat Food Insecurity
According to the latest figures from No Kid Hungry, as many as 13 million children in this country live in food-insecure homes, meaning their household doesn’t have enough food for every family member to lead a healthy life. In the decade before COVID-19 hit, those numbers had been falling steadily, but the impact of the pandemic reversed much of that progress. Students can organize their own grassroots efforts by partnering with:
- Local food banks
- Civic organizations
- Community groups
Now that the school year is winding down, middle school adviser Ginny Sautner suggests giving students the time to reflect on the past year’s events to see whether you, as an adviser, have cultivated an ideal student leadership environment. To see whether your students are ready to bloom:
- Require students to share what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown.
- Intentionally blend the end of one year and the beginning of the next to build your council culture and respect for mentorship.
- Celebrate in meaningful ways. Instead of just having pizza at the end-of-the-year meeting, plan for a significant activity that will leave a lasting impression.