By: Isabel Berry and Sarah Meklir
The Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Leadership Cadre (SLC) will be collaborating this school year to improve student life at Hammond. The first joint Student Government Association and Student Leadership Cadre meeting took place during Beartime in the second week of school. At this meeting the two groups discussed their plans for the year.
Photo Credit: Avery Moe
When asked about the meeting, assistant principal, Mr. DiFato expressed his hopes for the two organizations. “I feel like it went well; we asked Dr. DiPaula to come in and speak to our student leaders about the importance of student voice. And he really reiterated that it’s their school, and we are here to help them do whatever they want to accomplish.” At the meeting, students shared their ideas for the upcoming school year with the intention of boosting spirit and encouraging communication between the students and staff.
Out of many proposed ideas, one involved implementing a new year-long extension of spirit week called “King of the Den.” Similar to the “House Cup” from the Harry Potter universe, each month there will be dress-up days and events to boost morale. Participating in these events will give each class the opportunity to earn points, which will be counted up at the end of the year. The winning class will receive a prize.
One of the most important and well-known aspects of student life at Hammond is our Spirit Week. The President of Student Government, Malik Shuiab, expanded on a few ideas they had discussed, focusing on introducing the freshmen to Hammond’s famous Spirit Week and emphasizing its importance. “For spirit week this year, as I’m sure some of you guys have heard already, it’s going to be a bit different… SGA members are going to walk around to all of the 9th grade english classes and tell them what it means to be at Hammond, what it means to be in Hammond’s Spirit Week.” This approach would grant the underclassmen a smoother transition into all of Hammond’s traditions.
In addition to indoctrinating them into our culture, some feel Student Government and the Student Leadership Cadre should work towards improving programs that support both students’ voices and their mental health. Shuiab, a senior, supports this goal. “SGA means a lot to me because I care a lot about the school, and … I can [state] my opinion and have my voice be heard in decision making, in things that I wasn’t necessarily involved in freshman or sophomore year, and it’s really important to me. SLC is also really important as they give students a reason to believe their voice actually matters.”
This new approach is also supported by junior Camryn Johnson. Johnson, who is both varsity soccer captain and 2021 Class President, is also involved with SGA and Tri-M Music Honor Society. Johnson spoke about the challenges that students face at the start of a new school year, “I think there’s a little bit of a mental health issue across the juniors and seniors. As it gets to be a little bit more difficult [workload-wise], as well as for the underclassmen because starting a new school is difficult.” She suggested involving students, administration, and student services in open meetings where students could share, “…the best ways that we can manage stress and how they could help us.” This could greatly assist students and could help take Hammond to the next level when it comes to mental health care for the student body.
As classes ramp up and students adjust to new responsibilities, it is good to see groups like Student Government Association and the Student Leadership Cadre working together to provide a safe, supportive environment where students can learn to work positively and effectively with staff members. Dr. DiPaula, who presented at the first meeting, described his aspirations for the alliance between the two groups. “The premise behind this is for students to take the lead, and for the staff, adults, and principal to get them to do what it is that they want to do… The first meeting was good, but it was a lot of me talking, and I think in the future, it’s going to be more of the students talking.” They will be working together to create positive change. This year, their collaboration will benefit not only the student body, but the Hammond community as a whole.