While the rest of the school had an early release day on Oct. 25, the Walpole High Student Council hosted the annual Fall Conference for the Southeastern Massachusetts Association of Student Councils (SEMASC). The organization is made of 36 local high schools which meet regularly to improve leadership skills for use at their own schools. Over 550 students and 44 advisors were in attendance.
“SEMASC offers a variety of leadership opportunities such as annual fall, winter and spring conferences. These leadership opportunities help students to further develop various skills such as communication and team building through workshops and keynote speakers,” the organization’s website stated.
SEMASC’s theme for the year is ‘Surfs up, SEMASC,’ and this first conference was ‘Surf’s Up, SEMASC: Scan The Horizon,’ referring to students looking to the future and planning what they will achieve throughout the year. To incorporate service, representatives from other schools were encouraged to bring items to donate to this year’s chosen charity: the National Marine Life Center in Bourne. Additionally, Walpole asked visitors to wear pink in support of curing breast cancer, and the entire group went on a one mile walk for breast cancer support in the morning along with the police and other community members; all proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. Donations were requested through a GoFundMe, which brought in $950.
“We have struggled to draw interest from the Walpole community [in the past], so we decided to include students from SEMASC. We got positive feedback from both Student Council students and Walpole teachers for incorporating service on the day,” Student Council President Andrea Wilber said.
Throughout the day, the delegates attended leadership workshops in classrooms, went outside for the walk, ate lunch together in the cafeteria, and gathered in the gym for presentations from various students and adults.
Entering the school, other towns’ students were met with an energetic cheer tunnel and gathered in the gym, the hub of the day decorated with streamers and balloons. Council delegates then ate breakfast together and got excited for the day by doing energizer activities to the music. Then, they went on their walk and returned to the gym, where they heard speeches from WHS students who welcomed the group, the Marine Life Center who received their donations, SEMASC Executive Board members who gave updates on regional events and the President-Elect.
Students attended workshops hosted by other delegates to work on leadership and teamwork and foster open discussions about goals while having fun. There were also specialized workshops for freshmen to get acclimated to Student Council as well as for local presidents. After workshops and lunch, the group met in the gym once again for
a closing session to go over what they learned and achieved. Walpole Student Council representatives did not participate in the workshops; instead, they prepared the cafeteria and classrooms and made sure everything ran smoothly.
“We had to take care of all the logistics, so we had to provide breakfast and lunch, guide students around the school, work with custodians, secretaries, and the library to make sure that the rooms were in order and make sure that we have what we need,” Walpole Student Council adviser Kerry McMenimen said. “It’s a lot of logistical work and planning and organizing.”