Warrior Words: Govern(mental)

I have the ability to say something that a lot of kids dream of: my best friend and I run the school.

Perhaps that’s being a bit overdramatic, as it’s a major exaggeration to say that the student body president and vice president “run the school,” but it’s close enough and it’s a really cool-looking opening sentence. The reason I chose this week to reflect on my time in student government was because this past weekend (before I wrote this) was the Homecoming dance: the ultimate student government beast. But let me take it back a few years before I dive into that.

I started participating in student government in sixth grade, when I ran for secretary of Middlebrook School. I didn’t win — in fact, I didn’t even make it past the primaries, but I was still drawn to the illusion of leadership that student government provided in middle school. I ran for the other two officer positions, vice president and president, throughout middle school too, and I won! I’m just kidding. I never made it past the primaries those years either, but still I stayed. I made lots of friends through the club and that’s basically all it was — a club. We met Thursdays after school and did a few fund-raisers and then served cookies to the elderly around the holidays and that was it. I adored pretending like I had any sort of power to ban homework or have ice cream at lunch, like some students promised in their campaign speeches. I didn’t, of course, as my power was about as real as unicorns or my middle school popularity.

Fast forward to eighth grade, and I was certain after three years of dedicated student government service, as well as the eighth grade president dropping out after about two weeks in office, that I had secured the role of freshman class president. Naturally, I was infuriated that the position went to some random kid who had never even done student government in middle school! I assumed the role of “freshman class officer” with utmost bitterness because I had experience and deserved to be president over this random “Jackson” kid, who couldn’t schedule a toy drive or do the morning announcements well if he tried. I figured I would do WHS student government for a year tops, and then drop it quickly.

Fast even more forward to senior year, and I’m frantically spray painting a nine-foot-tall luminescent column with the smallest can of gold spray paint I’ve ever seen. It’s my seventh consecutive year in student government and my third year serving as vice president to now one of my best friends, Jackson. We transitioned from class president and VP to executive, and now had the daunting task of planning the Homecoming dance. The executive board had come up with the theme (outer space) five months before, and had all been preparing for that night ever since.

The Friday night before the dance, it was all hands on deck decorating the Cider Mill gym and hallway. Sophomore class officers were inflating 100 star-shaped mylar balloons while the freshmen stuck celestial stickers onto the walls covered in fire-retardant black tarp. Junior and senior class officers were hanging streamers and lights or constructing the seven-foot-tall crescent moon and covering it in glittery fabric. The senior class president, Emma, (bless her heart) took charge of making sure every planet was in place and every little decorative detail was accounted for. As for the executive board, most of us helped decorate every previous year but now we were in charge. That is the definition of satisfying (the illusion of leadership turned into real leadership) yet terrifying — because if this dance sucked, we were the first ones to blame. All of us, especially the decorations and social chairs, watched our careful, tedious planning come to life. I’ve never met anyone more prone to stress than Jackson, and I was genuinely concerned that he would have an honest-to-God heart attack before the DJ even arrived.

So here I am, the Monday after Homecoming weekend, and we’re all still alive. The dance went without any major hitches, and I was reminded why I stayed with student government. We just want to make the school a little better for everyone, and the fact that I love every person I’m working with makes it all the better. I’ll never forget standing with a crowd of 600 dancing teenagers, surrounded by technicolor lights and blaring music, looking into the eyes of some of my best friends and shouting, “We did this!”

So no, my best friend and I do not “run the school,” but with a feeling like that, who needs to?

Brooke Amodei is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.