The Langdon Area High School (LAHS) Student Council attended the North Dakota Association of Student Councils (NDASC) where junior Dawson Schefter successfully campaigned to become the new NDASC president.
Posted on 12/26/15
By Melissa Anderson
The North Dakota Association of Student Councils (NDASC) is an association led by students, for students. The association serves as a resource for advisors, students, and councils from all across the State of North Dakota. The NDASC is the second largest student association in the nation. This year’s annual convention was attended by over 1,400 student delegates.
“The LAHS Student Council is a group of 25 students who dedicate a lot of time and energy into planning and organizing events to engage students throughout the year,” Miss Kayla Lee, advisor to the LAHS Student Council, said.
Each student is elected to their position on the LAHS Student Council. There are several positions which range from students representing organizations like FBLA and Science Olympiad to offices such as President, President-Elect (Schefter’s local position), Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary.
“Each class grades 9 through 12 are able to elect representatives to the council every year,” Lee said.
Student Council creates an atmosphere that encourages students to think about topics that might otherwise go unnoticed. Most often, according to Lee, what students take from Student Council is a seed for thought, which couples with skills needed throughout their lives. Students begin to look into themselves for how to become, not only better leaders, but better people.
“Students learn the many principles of leadership and often times make the realization that leadership does not always require a title but is sometimes rather the small things done on a daily basis,” Lee explained.
At the NDASC convention, students have the opportunity to hear from world-renowned speakers who teach them the fundamental basics of leadership and public service. Delegates also have the opportunity to engage in mini sessions covering a variety of topics such as leadership, volunteerism, and several other topics focused on character-building.
In addition to these engagements, students who are selected as voting delegates are able to take part in the election process. These delegates are able to engage with candidates for state office by asking questions and listening to their speeches.
“These students then ultimately select who they feel would be the best candidate for office,” Lee said.
It’s through this selection and voting process that inspired Schefter to run for office when he attended his first NDASC Annual Conference as an eighth-grade middle school student council president.
“I was immediately fascinated with the prospects of leadership and the immense potential that was held in a room full of exceptional young leaders,” Schefter said, “I felt that in office, I could make a difference for the students of North Dakota and allow their voices to be heard.”
For Lee, who is in her first year as the advisor for the LAHS Student Council, Schefter’s goal of becoming the NDASC President came as no surprise.
“Honestly, I can’t remember a time when Dawson didn’t talk about and work toward the goal of becoming President of the NDASC,” Lee said.
When Schefter’s junior year started, he and Lee started the official process for Schefter to run for the NDASC presidency. They filled out the necessary paperwork and began the campaign. A volunteer committee made up of about a dozen student council members joined in on the fun to assist Schefter.
“Throughout the process, the committee members gave Dawson suggestions for everything from his video to his speech,” Lee said.
Lee noted that while the committee members did an amazing job supporting Schefter, it ultimately came down to Schefter’s own determination and passion to make a difference that led to his successful bid for President. The amount of effort Schefter put into his campaign was a large factor in his successful campaign, and Lee couldn’t be prouder of the things that Schefter has accomplished.
“Becoming President of such a large organization was not an easy feat, and Dawson took on the challenge with a tremendous amount of pride,” Lee said, ”Many of the members of our own student council said that they can’t imagine that anyone else did nearly as much preparation into the election as Dawson did.”
Schefter’s successful campaign revolved around three key components which he felt needed improvement or innovation within the association. The first was bringing the “Class B Perspective” into the highest office in the NDASC. Second, Schefter assured the delegates that, under his leadership, the association would do everything in its power to ensure a steady flow of communication between the NDASC Board and the members of the association. The third and final key component of his platform was rather simple, unity.
“I believe that by uniting the extraordinary student councils from throughout ND on one focused cause, these students will be able to do great work to not only impact our local communities but to move our state forward as a whole,” Schefter said.
In addition to these three key improvements to the association, Schefter campaigned on his proven track record of both state and local representation and leadership. This winning combination got Schefter the nod to become only the fourth President of the NDASC from a Class B school in the past 20 years.
“I am honored to have been elected by such a large and diverse delegation of students from all across North Dakota to be their leader and representative. It is truly my privilege to serve and represent the students of North Dakota. While I would have been grateful to have seen more support from my local district, I am humbled that I was able to succeed despite the overwhelming oppression which stemmed from some in the district.”
“Having been elected to this position, I am looking forward to fulfilling my promises of introducing a Class B perspective to the office, increasing communication amongst the association and its members, and uniting North Dakota’s councils on one focused cause,” Schefter said.
In addition to fulfilling the promises made on the campaign trail, Schefter’s duties as President of the NDASC will include traveling to places such as South Dakota, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and, of course, Bismarck to represent the students of North Dakota. The President along with the entire board will coordinate and plan the 2016 NDASC Annual Convention.
“In addition to these duties, Dawson is looking to expand the work of the association to include outreach to other councils in an effort to bring unity back to the association,” Lee said.
This position will give Schefter some extensive learning and growth opportunities in various areas, a challenge that he is looking forward to.
“I believe that throughout the next year of my term, I will learn and grow not only as an individual but as a leader,” Schefter stated.
While at this year’s conference, keynote speaker Stu Saunders delivered a speech on what it takes to be a leader. It was during Saunders speech about leadership that a statement Saunders made struck Schefter, “You don’t know everything.”
“This is one very simple message that cannot be stressed enough in leadership. I know that while I do have experience, I also have a lot to learn throughout this next year, and I am looking forward to all of the new challenges ahead,” Schefter said.
For the LAHS Student Council, Schefter’s success could not make them any happier. Lee explained that the experience that Schefter will gain throughout the next year will be invaluable to their own council.
“He is going to work with councils from all across the state and have discussions about what they are doing, ranging from school wide activities, service projects, leadership opportunities, fundraisers, etc.,” Lee said, “All of these great ideas of students from across the state can then be brought back to Langdon.”
The LAHS Student Council has already tried many new ideas this year including a weekly bulletin and end of the quarter celebrations but are looking forward to hearing more about what works well for other student councils.
“Dawson’s goal of unity within the organization will be invaluable to us and our growth as a student-led organization,” Lee said.
The Student Council, as a whole, has shown how important an organization for students it can be to encourage students to be involved. The skills learned can and will be carried with them far beyond their secondary and post-secondary education. Skills such as professionalism, public speaking, organization, teamwork, parliamentary procedure, communication, and, of course, leadership will all help students to succeed in their futures. If there is any doubt, Schefter’s campaign shows how much he has learned and utilized the skills he has gained from Student Council to perfection.
“This was a perfect example of hard work and determination paying off, and I truly hope that the students of LAHS and LAMS are inspired by Dawson to set a goal and work hard to achieve it,” Lee said.