We came. We saw. We led.
Those are the words that inspire the student leaders of the 2017/2018 school year to lead Ojai Valley School’s students.
On August 31st, three days before all the students returned to the upper campus, twenty-two student leaders came up early and worked hard to get ready for the new school year. During that weekend, these students decorated the dorms and classroom hallways, and they also acted out scenarios to prepare themselves to take on situations confidently during the school year.
“Through the role play activity, the student leaders learned how to deal with different situations that might happen on campus,” Junior student leader Ivy Sun said. “We’re now prepared to solve daily issues for new and returning students with our experiences.”
Student leaders do many different things for the school community. They help run the dorms by doing lights out and make sure crew jobs get done, but they also do other jobs like helping organize school events, or helping teachers out with different tasks.
Just last year students went through an intensive process to become a student leader.
Students first needed to submit an application before they got interviewed by Crystal Davis, Assistant Headmaster, and two to three other teachers. Students were asked about their previous leadership experience, about their strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and the ideas they had for the school year in the future.
But most importantly, student leaders were asked if they were motivated enough to dedicate their time and efforts to be the face of OVS, and to help make a change in its community.
Student leaders consist of sophomores, juniors, and seniors all looking to contribute to the OVS community. They work as prefects, ambassadors, and participate in student government to help the teachers and staff make this school year run smoothly and successfully.
Ms. Davis was the mastermind behind the idea to create the group of student leaders. With a vision in mind, she knew the key to a successful school year was leadership not only in the teachers, but in the students.
“It can’t just be the teachers talking,” Ms. Davis said. “Good student leadership is essential to achieving the goals of the school.”
These goals vary from different things throughout the year. Sometimes students need to step up as leaders to help study halls run smoothly, to assist teachers, to welcome new students, or to promote school spirit.
Not even a month into the 2017/2018 school years, half of these things have been happening due to the help of student leadership.
OVS senior, student council president, and student leader, Jacob Tadlock’s most important job is to help promote school spirit. From spirit days, to school dances, to sports games, the job to get students to participate and support the community used to primarily be Student Council’s job.
Now with a strong community of student leaders, this job has become much easier and has made events far more enjoyable.
“We have a large group of the student body willing to show up to spirit days, cheer on sports games, and spread spirit,” Jacob said. “These students are able to make their friends show up and make these activities more eventful, and that’s what makes student leadership so special.”
But student leadership isn’t just spreading school spirit, cheering on the teams, and helping form a community- it’s hard work. Student leaders are expected to rise to the occasion and make the right decision, and encourage others to make the right decision as well. They are asked to step out of their comfort zones in different ways, or even take part in tasks that aren’t always enjoyable. However, the students are willing to do these jobs and that’s what makes the program so special and different to previous years.
So far, student leaders have received nothing but positive reviews. Everyone is noticing the effectiveness of student leadership this year and appreciating how good and efficient they are. The leaders take initiative. If there’s a task needed to be done, the leaders are quick to make sure it is completed.
Admissions director, Tracy Wilson also hopes to have student leaders work with the admissions team to lead campus tours and introduce themselves to prospective students. Though this has been happening informally in the past, the team wants to have the leaders become a part of the touring process so these prospective students can meet current students and ask questions about the residential life and the academic program.
“It’s been our goal to build a more formal student ambassador program in which student leaders would work with the Admissions team to help lead campus tours and answer questions for prospective students,” Ms. Wilson said, “We’ve been looking for ways to make this work with the student leaders, because we know how valuable student-to-student interaction is.”
Humanities and AP World History teacher, cross country coach, and college counselor Fred Alvarez plans to have student leaders sit in on meetings with college representatives who visit OVS. In these meetings, students will learn about these colleges and ask the representatives questions, but they will also represent OVS and talk to the representatives about the school.
This is just the beginning of student leadership at the Ojai Valley School. Even with all the progress already made, there’s still so much more to come.
“Student leaders are not just standing around waiting for someone to ask them to do something,” Ms. Davis said. “But instead they are doing these jobs with enthusiasm and creativity.”