June 28, 2019
I became a student council advisor sometime in my third or fourth year of teaching. I had watched from the sidelines, and it looked like fun. I had seen my friend Stacy and her kids hold dances and run spirit days. I wholeheartedly participated in all of them and always took the time to chaperone each event.
When she asked me to take over, I said yes immediately. We had a new principal who had downgraded the position from an early bird class, which is a prep buy out, to a club. That translate to from a few thousand dollars down to six hundred dollars a semester. I jumped at the chance. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
My first meeting with the kids, half of them didn’t show up. The ones that did, argued and wouldn’t let me talk or talked over me. They were rude and showed no respect at all. The huge missing component was the president of the student body.
After the first meeting, my head was spinning. We planned to meet three times a week. At the second meeting, the president didn’t show up again. The kids announced they wanted to vote her out. I asked them if they could do that. They said sure. Of course they could, as long as they had a majority vote. So, I said okay.
Oh, my little naive self. I didn’t know what I was doing. Stacy, the previous advisor, although my friend, had pretty much just said,”Here you go. Good luck.” She gave me nothing to go off of. No constitution. No forms or rules. Just here’s a list of kids and the you have to hold a dance at the end of year for the 8th graders.
At his second meeting, the kids put forward that they wanted to removed the student body president. I said okay. I asked if anyone disagreed. Nobody came forward. I said we would vote next meeting.
Next meeting came around. The president still didn’t show up. The kids voted. Almost all of them voted to remove her from office. It was a short meeting. They all went running to Stacy. “Can you believe what Ms. T did? She threw Alyssa out of office?”
Next meeting, the president showed up. I informed her that she was no longer president. She didn’t like that and went to the office to complain. I got called up to the office the next day saying I couldn’t do that. My excuse, “The kids said they could do it. They voted on it. It’s done.” Oh my goodness.
Kathy, my supervisor, broke it down to me. She explained the rules of a constitution and how there needed to be agendas and minutes and postings. That a formal letter needed to be drafted with intent of removal handed to the person removing from office. She didn’t know she was being removed from office. It went on forever all the things I didn’t know and all the things I had done wrong. I had been railroaded by bunch of kids.
The following meeting, all the kids came, including the defunked but newly reestablished president. She made it known, it was her that had gotten me in trouble and had gotten her position back. Things were very testy. There was a faction of kids that wanted Alyssa gone and a faction of kids that wanted her to stay. Nobody wanted to work together. It was a tough crowd to say the least and I still had no idea what I was doing.
The dance was still needing to be planned. The kids took two weeks coming up with an idea of what they wanted to do for the dance. They could not decide. They looked though all the magazines. We had about $3000 for them to spend. Most of the kits cost that much. I have never ordered a kit, I didn’t know what to expect or what was involved so I just said let’s order one.
They finally decided on “A Night In Paris”. It was a Parisian theme. Set with a huge Eiffel Tower that needed to be constructed with hot glue and an outline of the city that also needed construction. But that Eiffel Tower was almost twenty feet tall. Also, side note, nobody told me that Paris Hilton’s porno was also entitled “A Night in Paris” until after all the tickets had been printed, so there’s that too.
We ordered all the items but we needed other things for the backdrop. They wanted a waterfall but it cost about $500 and I said no. I would build one for that cost. And I did. It would be the first of many homemade construction projects that student council would be known for. The waterfall took about two weeks to make with paper mache. White twinkle lights were popped through the back throughout, water gossamer was draped over and it gave the effect of a waterfall. It was a big hit. Unfortunately, it was only used one time. In storing it, the field mice, ate it and shredded it.
Other construction items, included trees, light posts, center pieces, and a miss mosh of other little things. All of this needed to be completed with that $3000 limit.
We took over a portable in the back of the school to construct the awful Eiffel. A student Rick ended up mostly being responsible for hot glueing most of it together. He had been abandoned by most of the kids. My son also helped him. It was difficult work, the instructions didn’t make sense, the pieces didn’t fit together. It was a $1500 piece of cardboard shit and glue.
I was trying to keep the other kids on track. They mostly did NOTHING. There were a select few that did some things, but most of them did nothing. It was extremely difficult to motivate them. They had no buy in with me as their advisor. They still regularly went to Stacy to complain about me and tell on me about what I was doing. When I needed them working, I would just go to her room and many times, they would be in there talking to her. It was very frustrating.
The day had finally arrived for the dance. Previous advisors and teachers who ran the dance always took The whole day off to prepare, so it’s what I did. I quickly found out, that it’s not what is needed. You do not need all that time to do that. You can’t even do anything until after the kids are done with lunch and the cafeteria is clean. Once the cafeteria had been cleaned. We got started.
We decorated our little hearts out. The kids, actually worked together and were getting stuff done. My friend Pat had driven over to my house and somehow had managed to get that waterfall into the back of his truck and get back to the school without it flying out of the back of his truck or it breaking. Things were coming together.
Then we had to get the tower. It came in three pieces. It took us forever to get it together. Students had started to line up to get into the dance. The DJ was starting up his music and we were still trying to get the top to stay on without it falling over. Finally, it was staying. It was wobbly but it stayed. I had two children stand guard all night to keep it safe.
The dance started off well. Many of my teacher friends came out to support me. It was a semi formal affair. It was nice that they came out and spent an evening with the kids. There was some drama with some girls about a boy. Some highly inappropriate attire about boobs almost popping out of dresses. Slits of skirts almost showing hoohaws. And then the dirty dancing simulating sex. The things kids do as 8th graders is astounding.
The dance ended with little fanfare, with the exceptions above. All the kids went home, including most my student council kids. They didn’t stay to clean up and did not tell me if they were coming the next day to help me clean up. The first thing I did was jump on the Eiffel Tower. It collapsed immediately. I wanted that thing gone as quick as possible.
I had about three council kids with me, my son and some teachers who stayed with me to clean up. It was nice. We got it cleaned it.
It was quite the affair. I learned a lot.
It was my first big undertaking as an advisor. I learned not to order shit out of catalogues. I learned not to trust kids on their words, they are kids. I learned, kids are kids, treat them as kids. I learned, kids lie, they are kids. I learned some kids work really hard and have great leadership skills even though they are not the chosen leaders.
My next ten years as a student council advisor would not be like this. My next ten years were full of great memories, great students and full of fun. This was trial by fire. I learned what not to do. Sometimes that’s the only way to learn.