REIMAGINING STUDENT COUNCIL
By Ken, Grade 10.
The boardroom at KIS International School is well-lit and furnished, filled with an atmosphere of formality. Traditionally, it was a room where staff would convene to meet, but today, quite a different group was using it. Seated on the chairs were not the directors of the school, but instead students; the members of the KIS Student Council. An agenda sits on the projector screen, including topics ranging from Halloween plans to constitutional amendments.
A debate has just finished about whether the student council should donate money to support an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer.. The president looks around, seeing if there are any more hands raised to raise another discussion point. Seeing that there are none, he announces in a deep voice that a vote is to be called. The council raises their hand in favor of the motion, and the vote is passed.
In a way, it is symbolic that the KIS Student Council has now moved into the boardroom, the center of the school. That room which so brims with a feeling of efficiency and power seems to be representative of the new student occupants that have been granted permission to use it, and the metamorphosis of great proportions that happened to transform the Student Council into such a efficient and powerful body. This reform was brought about by students who, as their constitution states so aptly, decided to embark on a journey to more effectively help “promote excellence” and “provide for the spirit of the students”.
THE SPIRIT OF REFORM
Spirit is a big part of the KIS community, as emphasized in its very motto: Knowledge, Inspiration, Spirit. The students of KIS personally embody this sense of spirit through their enthusiasm and positive, risk-taking and open-minded attitude.
While the excellent spirit of the school stems from every member of the community, at the heart of creating this sense of spirit is the Student Council. As a ‘club’, successive generations of this council have been integral in maintaining the school spirit through the hosting of events. However, while it is true that the student council club was good at this job, there was a feeling that its true potential had yet to be unleashed. How could the council become more efficient and effective? Could it reach out to do more than just running events and coming up with ideas for casual dress-up days? Is it possible for the voices of the different grade levels to be represented more equally?
Casual questions, to be sure, but the answers to these questions led to the most dramatic transformation of the KIS Student Council in the entire history of the school.
A series of reforms happened between the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 that led to the KIS Student Council’s biggest changes ever. Firstly, a microcosm of a parliamentary democracy was set up, with each class electing representatives, who in turn elected the President, Vice President and Secretaries. These representatives were responsible for ensuring that their class’s voice got heard in council, while accepting council projects from time to time, while the President, Vice President and Secretaries provided leadership for the council. A constitution was also drafted, based off the American constitution. The KIS Student Council was transformed, over a short of period of time, from being a casual club to a full student government.
A brand new Student Council, run under a completely different system, had been set up, ready to take on its traditional role of providing for the spirit of the students. And it was intended to do even more. However, first, it had to consolidate this new system that had been set up.
CONSOLIDATING THE SYSTEM
It was with a sense of nervousness when the new Council convened to meet each other in that boardroom for the first time. The system had been irreversibly reformed as had never been done before. Doubts persisted about whether the new system would work, even amongst the council members.
The early days were rough, as was expected. The Constitution, drafted over the summer, had to be arduously reviewed clause-by-clause, debated over, then signed. Later on, when inconsistencies and illogical rules were discovered, amendments had to be created and referendums on the amendments held in the school body. In effect, the students had created not only their own executive body, but also a legislature.
Another issue to be addressed was that in previous years, younger students did not have much of a voice in the council. In this new council, every member, regardless of grade level, were given an equal vote and voice in all matters. In addition, with their role as class representatives, they were able to bring concerns from classmates directly for discussion within the council. While old habits were not immediately changed, the council eventually found a way to balance out work between the grade levels and ensure that every grade level representative got a chance to speak during meetings.
Finally, Student Council strived to improve its efficiency which would in turn allow it to get large amounts of work completed. Through effective use of technology and dedication from its members, the council was able to manage an unprecedented number of projects at one time.
President Nod commented, “Student Council went through a reformation that has seen us achieve a multitude of things that I think would not have been possible last year. The new structure has empowered younger members to bring forth a positive impact to the community.”
UNLEASHING THE POTENTIAL
The reformed Student Council has been able to attain numerous achievements in its first year. Continuing the tradition from previous years, the Council continued to host activities and games. However, in addition to the usual activities, the Council chose to place a focus on highlighting and recognizing student talent and achievement, leading to the hosting of two major competitions: an art competition and an adapted version of The Voice. These events were very successful, propelling new generations of students to showcase their talent to the rest of the community.
The Council also chose to reach out to others outside the community. Through fundraisers, the Council rose a combined total of nearly 50,000 baht for organizations working on fighting breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. The Council also helped to make approval community and service projects easier and more accessible for others as well, so it implemented a new event proposal form system, working with the entire student body on getting their community service initiatives approved with the school administration.
The Council was also able to work with the administration in other ways as well. The Council integrated itself into teacher event committees; in particular, it helped to coordinate work between the KIS Parents Association, the Primary Years Student Council, and the school administration to host a wildly successful Halloween event. In addition, dialogue was increased with the Student Services and Marketing departments, facilitating studentstaff cooperation.
The biggest achievements of the reformed Council, however, may be its smallest ones: responding to everyday student concerns through the new representative system. After all, a democratic government must be a responsive government, and the Council strived to ensure that the student voice, no matter if they were a sixth grader or in the final year of school, was heard and taken into consideration. From long cafeteria lines to the bells not being loud enough, problems were solved one by one. The Student Council, for the first time, was able to truly work with the student body in taking in their demands and attempting to realize them.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
With the end of the academic year nearing, the curtains are about to come down on this first generation of the reformed council at KIS. The atmosphere of the school is buzzing, preparing for its second ever elections for class representatives that will serve in the next year. The lights in the boardroom are about to go out. The faces will change for the next year, the constitution may be amended yet again, and policy changes may come in the council. But one thing is for sure: the KIS Student Council has discovered a new, reinvigorated sense of spirit and mission. It also has an unprecedented, newfound efficiency and sense of vision. The lights in the boardroom may go out, but the KIS Student Council is shining brighter than ever, and will continue to illuminate the way for the student body.