A simple phrase became a sort of slogan among about 50 Colorado students who attended the National Association of Student Councils conference last week.
“Student council should be like a railroad,” said Slade Gurr, who will be a senior at Moffat County High School in the fall.
It was a revelation that came in response to a presentation at the three-day national conference in Indianapolis. Tour guides showed the students how the invention of the railroad streamlined supplies, personnel and resources to budding industries in the 19th century.
Gurr said that model can apply to his role as student council president, which he will resume in the fall for a second year.
“In student council, and in life, you have to work to reduce excess work and make things more efficient,” he explained.
Gurr was one of 1,500 students who attended the conference, and was one of three from the Western Slope.
The weekend featured guest speakers, workshops and time to sightsee and mingle with student council representatives from other states.
“It was really cool actually,” he said. “You go, you meet kids from all over the nation, you get unique perspectives on what’s affecting their schools. It opens your eyes to take in new practices.”
He paid for the trip himself because he wanted to experience the conference for his own personal growth and as an investment in the future of leadership at MCHS.
“It’s beneficial to the school district that someone was there to see all of it,” he said. “It’s a good life experience. I’ve never done anything that big before.”
During the trip, Gurr said he picked up ideas from other students he can incorporate into student council activities like Homecoming Week, but he also learned ways in which the Moffat County School District is unique.
For example, while school district administrators and school board members considered more than $1 million in budget cuts, the MCHS student council helped organize meetings with district officials to make their voices heard and encourage a dialogue that included the students.
Gurr said he spoke with students from other states about their involvement in the budget process.
“Nobody had really thought of doing that,” he said. “It was cool to hear that we’re doing something that hardly anyone else in the nation is doing.”
He said he gained some insight into new programs, including an idea about a campaign to try to increase graduation rates.
He said he would consider starting a campaign in which students and teachers made commitments to help others work toward finishing classes and getting a diploma.
But, his main goal, after spending three days with Colorado student representatives, is to bridge the communication gap among schools around the state.
His vision is for student councils on the Western Slope and Front Range to trade ideas and discuss statewide activities.
“We can say, ‘These are the activities we’re doing, this is what we’re looking at,’” he said. “And, someone on the Front Range can show what they’re doing. That way, we can work together as a state to fix problems in our own districts.”