By Conrad Dudderar
It was a “sweet 16” for the Yukon High School Student Council after a year making lemonade out of lemons.
For the 16th straight year, the YHS Student Council has been recognized as a National Gold Council of Excellence for providing quality leadership activities and service to their schools and community. Yukon has now achieved this honor every year since the National Student Council (NatStuCo) created this elite award in 2005.
“This is a statement of our students’ dedication,” said Darryl Andrews, who has been YHS Student Council advisor for 31 years. “If there was a state champion school in student council, we’d be in the top-five playoffs every year.
“Our kids are ‘shining lights’. I am super-proud of them.”
The National Gold Council of Excellence award was recently awarded to student councils across the U.S. that demonstrated the highest levels of leaderships and meet other standards set by NatStuCo.
YHS was among 10 Oklahoma schools winning 2021 National Council of Excellence awards.
For 30 straight years, the YHS Student Council has been named an Oklahoma High School Student Council Gold Chapter. Gold Chapter award winners are student councils that have well-rounded programs and are active on the local, district and state levels.
“Our kids want to do good,” Andrews added. “They want to be the best. It’s like a team looking for a gold ball at the end of the season.
“The national gold council recognition and state gold chapter recognition says they are doing what they need to be doing to make their school a better place.”
YHS StuCo officers for 2020-21 were: President Rebecca George, Vice President Caleigh Clowdus, Spirit Chair Ali Dunn, Secretary Lauren Brown, Points Secretary Kati Weeks, Historian Madelyn Rhoda, Publicist Snow Forth, Parliamentarian Cade Pope, and Chaplain Mikayla Gilbert.
Yukon’s Ella Stanley was state secretary for the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils.
MAKING THE LEMONADE
The 2021-22 school year was challenging for Yukon Student Council members owing to school shutdowns and restrictions caused by COVID-19. Several traditional in-person activities and projects had to be canceled or presented virtually. But YHS student leaders were undeterred.
“They were determined to make the day the best that they could under the circumstances,” Andrews said. “Our theme for the year was ‘When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade’.
“They knew they were going to have a lot of challenges and be told ‘no’ a lot. They still continued to ask, and when they were told ‘no’, they tried to find creative alternatives and ways to make things happen.”
The 60-member YHS Student Council organized and participated in various activities during the ’20-’21 school year, including Random Acts of Kindness Week, Mental Health Week, Homecoming ceremonies, and virtual spirit days, service activities and a pep assembly.
“This was one of our most determined years because they wanted to ‘make things happen’ for the good,” Andrews shared.
Most of the heavy lifting had to be done by a 30-student executive board that met regularly inside Andrews’ classroom.
YHS StuCo members were unable to host a blood drive this past year – or even meet after school as a group – due to the virus.
BACK TO NORMAL
Andrews, who has taught 36 years in Yukon, said the YHS Student Council looks forward to a return to normalcy during the 2021-22 school year. For example, members hope to host several community blood drives and resume other in-person events.
“This will be a year of creating new opportunities and new traditions,” Andrews explained. “I’m interested to see what they choose as their theme.
“We need to appreciate what we have and make it the best that we can.”
YHS last hosted the National Student Council Convention in 2012. The school hosted state conventions in 1992, 2006, 2010, 2015, and 2020.
Andrews thanked the Yukon community for its support of the YHS Student Council, starting with the annual Leaders of Tomorrow sponsored by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce.
“We plant those seeds early,” Andrews said of this leadership program for YHS sophomores.