This year's convention was special because our student council chose to run for the office of secretary of TASC. This is a real-life board position, complete with parliamentary procedure, fiduciary responsibilities, and supporting and organizing the collaborative efforts of all student councils in the state of Texas. It's a big deal.
Our kids ran on the platform of CARE week, or Cancer: Awareness, Recognition, and Education. They invited schools all across the district to participate, and they had everything from Locks of Love and bracelets to t-shirts and videos. For weeks, I saw my dear friend Tiffany and her StuCo kids work like crazy to prepare for CARE week. As a result they involved every student in our 2600 member student body and raised thousands of dollars for students in our school who are fighting or have fought cancer (there are four). What started as a state campaign became a beautiful week of teenagers giving their time and creativity and effort to help others.
They also learned and shared lots of facts. I could recite for you way too many things about prostate cancer which I learned in Yearbook one day, but I'm trying to keep this G-rated.
I am a self-proclaimed "StuCo Groupie." The sponsor is my friend and many of the kids are in my classes, so I like to hang out with them when I'm procrastinating. When they needed another driver to go to state convention I was excited to volunteer.
I truly cannot express what I saw from those kids in four days. Not only did they work like I didn't know was possible, but they did it with a smile. There was never an argument or an uncomfortable moment. They were incredibly professional, but kids at the same time. For some reason I can't quite articulate what I saw, and I don't believe anyone could understand the gravity of it unless he saw it.
Watching the kids campaign was moving. They discussed scenarios for making friends with the strangers whose votes they wanted, they discussed the importance of learning each person's name and how ineffective it is to spout off facts to people, they constantly reminded each other that everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and they used that as a starting point for conversations. In the midst of the chaos of the campaign, they always remembered that their platform was about helping people. They wanted every school in Texas to hold a CARE week even more than they wanted to win. The level of maturity and global consciousness they displayed was unlike anything I have seen before.
As part of their campaign booth, they asked students to write the name of a cancer victim on a small circle, and then they placed that circle on their "Wall of Honor and Remembrance." Seeing that wall overflowing with names was a testament to the gravity of CARE week's mission. The act of writing Jack Comer and Elizabeth Hickman, names of my family members who have suffered with cancer, brought tears to my eyes. Knowing that these kids were working to help people like my grandfather really touched me.
Other parts of the weekend were awesome, too: the dance party in Joe's Crab Shack, the banana incident (either you know about it or you don't), the impromptu conga line before the last day's general session. Not only were these kids supporting cancer research and cancer victims, but they were having fun doing it. I kept thinking that I hope my kids can be like these kids. I hope they can find something meaningful to devote themselves to, and I hope they can have half as much fun as these kids have.
On the last day, the election results were announced. The preceding program seemed to drag on forever. I was shuffling in my seat, biting my nails, and trying to calm my racing heart. I wanted this for the kids, but I wanted it even more for their sponsor. Behind the scenes, with little recognition, she works for them without fail, and she wanted this for them because they had earned it. I sat there, the StuCo Groupie, knowing that this group deserved to win because of the hard work and heart they put into helping others.
And when the state secretary was announced, it was A&M Consolidated. Screaming, laughter, and tears erupted from our two rows. There's just something awesome about what happens when the good guy wins. When you see a group of people come together to change the world, and they are recognized for their efforts, an indescribable hope emerges.
I received a great gift last weekend, and all I did was show up.