Award distinguishes student leader

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Woodland Regional High School Student Government President Noelle Guerrera, right, was named a National Association of Student Councils distinguished student leader. She is pictured with Woodland Student Government adviser Chris Tomlin, a humanities teacher. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — There have been times when Woodland Regional High School Student Government President Noelle Guerrera questioned whether she’s the type of leader the student body needed. As far as the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) is concerned, the senior from Prospect has nothing to worry about.

NASC recently named Guerrera a distinguished student leader. The recognition is earned through NASC’s distinguished student leaders program, which was created to identify outstanding individual student council leaders in high schools across the country. Those who demonstrate “exemplary leadership abilities” earn the honor, and Guerrera is one of nearly 700 students nationwide to achieve the recognition since it started in 2007, a press release stated.

“To see that I rank among leaders from all over at this high, high level, it was a really big honor. I know that I’m doing something right and I can keep advancing,” Guerrera said.

To be considered for the recognition, students must complete a lengthy application with 15 different sections. Students must put their leadership skills into action and demonstrate it through various activities, including service and civic engagement projects, and submit a leadership portfolio.

Guerrera spent several months — and a few long nights — starting in September completing her portfolio. The arduous process showed her the “little things” that go into being a leader, and her areas of strength and weakness.

“It was a mix of doing something new to strengthen my areas where I was weak or seeing where I was strong and including that because I’d already accomplished it,” said Guerrera of building her portfolio.

Woodland Student Government adviser Chris Tomlin, a humanities teacher at the school, said three or four students talked about applying for the award in the past, but Guerrera was the first to see it through to the end.

“When Noelle said she wanted to do this, not that I didn’t believe that she would do it, but I wasn’t sure how far she would get based on the track record,” Tomlin said. “She has done amazing.”

According to Tomlin, Guerrera is the first student in the state and one of two in New England to earn the honor.

“Leadership is one of those terms that people throw around … but to go through and compare it to a standard and see what exactly a national standard is for what a leader should be able to do, it was awesome,” Tomlin said.

Guerrera, who has served on the student government since her freshman year, said a desire to see who she is as a leader kept her motivated throughout the application process.

“I’m always in front of the student body, and I’m always talking to them and presenting to them and doing things for them, but I never knew if I was exactly what they needed,” Guerrera said.

For Guerrera, who wants to be a lawyer, the recognition is a validation of her efforts.

“Being a leader, speaking up in your school is similar to a lawyer speaking up, so it was definitely reassuring and validating to say the least,” she said.