The gold standard

Woodland Student Council earns national recognition

From left, Woodland Regional Student Council Vice President Jeff Lauck, council Speaker Mary Vlamis, council Chair of Governmental Affairs Lindsey Rodorigo and council advisor Chris Tomlin display the 2014 National Gold Council of Excellence award the student council received from the National Association of Student Councils at the school in Beacon Falls. The recognition is awarded to student councils that demonstrate the highest levels of leadership and embrace exceptional activities, according to the NASC website. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

From left, Woodland Regional Student Council Vice President Jeff Lauck, council Speaker Mary Vlamis, council Chair of Governmental Affairs Lindsey Rodorigo and council advisor Chris Tomlin display the 2014 National Gold Council of Excellence award the student council received from the National Association of Student Councils at the school in Beacon Falls. The recognition is awarded to student councils that demonstrate the highest levels of leadership and embrace exceptional activities, according to the NASC website. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — After a year’s worth of work, the Woodland Regional Student Council has earned an accolade that only 200 schools across the country can boast about.  

The Woodland Regional Student Council has been selected by the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) as a 2014 National Gold Council of Excellence.

“We’re so proud of ourselves. A lot of work went into getting this award,” said Mary Vlamis, a sophomore and the council’s speaker.

The NASC awards two levels of recognition, with the National Gold Council of Excellence being the more prestigious of the two honors. The recognition is awarded to student councils that demonstrate the highest levels of leadership and embrace exceptional activities, according to the NASC website. Student councils must meet 52 standards to achieve the honor.

The application process takes over a year and requires student councils to look at themselves, how they operate and interact with their school and community.

“It challenges us to look at what we do,” said Chris Tomlin, a history teacher at Woodland and student council advisor.

What the Woodland Regional Student Council discovered is it was performing well in certain areas, like governmental operations, but coming up short in others, such as engaging the community and reaching out to the entire school.

“By doing this we gained experience and learned how to be a better student council,” said Lindsey Rodorigo, a sophomore and chair of governmental affairs for the council.

A core group of about a half dozen students led the way on putting together the council’s application starting in January 2013. Among the focus was shoring up the council’s weak spots.

The council, which has 52 members, has always organized and hosted events at the school, such as the annual spirit week. Over the past year, the council expanded its programs to broaden its reach and impact to the entire school and community.

Among the new events it hosted was a trick or treat street at the school for Halloween and a clean-up at Matthies Park. Also, the council opened up its Cards for Kids event to the entire school.

During the event, students make get well cards for children in hospitals. Along with opening the program up to the entire school, the council also sent cards to an organization in Chicago that disturbed them to children cross the country.

The application had to include evidence that the council had met 52 national standards laid out by the NASC. Students also had to present their application to Woodland Principal Kurt Ogren, who had to provide a letter of recommendation, before it could be submitted.

The application was submitted in February. In the weeks that followed members of the council anxiously awaited word from the NASC.

The council received the much anticipated news this month.

Jeff Lauck, a senior and vice president of the council, said the air in the room was electric when the students opened the package from the NASC.

“The energy in the room when we opened it, you could feel it, it was supercharged,” Lauck said.

The feeling was one of elation, students said, when they learned the council had received the honor. Woodland is one of two schools in the state — the other is Woodstock Academy — to receive the honor this year.

Vlamis said it means a lot to the council to gain notoriety for its work.

“It makes us want to continue working hard,” she said.

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