The Union Recorder

February 11, 2013

GMC students find their voice through student government

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Members of Georgia Military College Prep School’s student body wanted to find a better avenue of voicing their opinions and concerns to administrators in search of proactive solutions. As a result, a Student Advisory Council was formed by members of the senior class, but they soon realized voices of underclassmen also needed an outlet.

“After the focus group formed, [Principal Col. John Thornton] came to us and said he would like to have a student-elected Student Government Association (SGA). Rather than have 500 students sharing their opinions and concerns to administrators, students can talk to SGA representatives,” said Maj. Amy Lee, SGA advisor along with Maj. Anne Mason. “SGA promotes positive learning in the school and interactions between students and the administration and find out what’s going to benefit students.”

The mission of GMC Prep SGA is to serve as a liaison to faculty and staff and support, serve and encourage the student body.

“The Student Advisory Council was really a way to allow faculty to connect with the student body and learn how some things could be changed at the school for the better,” said SGA senior representative Kris Irvin, who will attend North Georgia College & State University on a four-year ROTC scholarship. “I hope there’s more school pride by having the SGA in the school. I feel like the new GMC president will utilize the SGA. From the [candidates] we’ve spoken to thus far, they seem very proactive rather than reactive.”

In August, 18 students campaigned for office via campaign posters, flyers and 20-second commercials before elections were held in September. Student candidates completed an application form, wrote an essay describing why they should run for office and traits they possess that would benefit the organization. Each candidate also delivered a campaign speech to the student body during an assembly explaining his or her philosophy on the role of SGA at the school. Students then voted for candidates they saw were best-fit.

“We ran the voting through the history class, and the math department did a statistics project over voting trends. For the week of elections while we were doing campaigning, [the teacher] did random polls of students and who was predicted to win, just like the presidential elections,” Lee said. “After student candidates gave their campaign speeches, it really swayed the opinions of the student body and that proved to us that it wasn’t a popularity contest.”

The high school SGA is made up of 12 members, including Jostin Grimes, president; Elliot Fairbrass, vice president; KeShawn Harris, secretary; Haley Spires, treasurer; Irvin and Sarah Poole, senior representatives; Ben Scheff and Maya Mapp, junior representatives; Elizabeth Savage and Liam Fairbrass, sophomore representatives; and Patrick Lewis and Sarai Mapp, freshman representatives.

“In our first semester, the lunch prices were ridiculous here. SGA was called in to have a meeting with the lunchroom staff, and we gave them more cost-friendly options. The price is now reduced,” said Harris, who plans to major in broadcast journalism. He also explained how the student body felt the shortage of microwaves in the cafeteria was hindering their lunchtime, so SGA was able to convince the lunch committee to install another microwave.

Grimes said his main purpose of running for SGA was to promote school spirit and pride throughout the student body.

“I decided to run for SGA because we needed more school spirit, especially during spirit week, and overall change at the school,” he said as he strives to one day earn a bachelor’s in fine arts to pursue an acting career in musical theater. “I hope SGA gets bigger and people’s voices and opinions are heard by the school.”

The SGA members are in the midst of preparing an anti-bullying skit to perform at the Georgia Associations of Student Councils’ convention at Rock Eagle 4-H Center Feb. 22. They hope to fill the secretary school position on the state board.

“If we do get elected to executive committee, then we will meet and plan for state convention next year,” Lee said. “We’re expecting 400 to 500 students from student councils from across the state.”

Elections to fill SGA positions next academic year is slated in March.

“We give credit to [Lee and Mason] for being our advisors and helping us with everything. We wouldn’t know what to do without them,” Savage said. “They are the connections to administration.”

“SGA wants the student body to be as motivated as they are and be proud of GMC as they are. They’re a really good example for the student body. There’s a need for SGA here without a doubt,” Lee added. “We hope after seeing what SGA is and what it’s all about this year that it will be even better next year.”

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