BIG CYPRESS — With parents, teachers and students watching, the Ahfachkee Student Council was sworn in by Principal Dorothy Cain at the school’s Dec. 6 Parent Teacher Student Organization meeting.
Elected in late October, the five officers – President Mya Cypress, Vice President Janessa Jones, Secretary/Treasurer Eyanna Billie, Middle School representative Billie Cypress and Elementary representative Abbiegale Green – have hit the ground running.
“They’ve taken ownership of it and are coming up with their own ideas and topics to address,” said teacher coordinator and student council advisor Valerie Whiteside. “They are using the problem-solving process to identify an issue, determine how it got that way and figure out how to fix it.”
The students’ reasons for running for Council include the desire to make the school better by bringing back some old activities, improve their leadership skills, enhance their college applications and have fun doing it.
“I want to incorporate fun into learning to motivate people to come to school,” said 10th-grader Mya, 15. “Having fun while learning is more appealing.”
The Council has already accomplished two of its goals, including students being allowed to go outside and sit under the chickee during lunch. Younger students go as a class but older kids are now allowed to go out by themselves.
“My class loves it,” said fourth-grader Abbiegale, 9.
Student Council also implemented Christmas Spirit Week Dec. 19-22, during which students were encouraged to rock their ugliest sweaters, dress as a Christmas character, wear red and green clothing and don Christmas accessories. Other ideas on the Council’s agenda for the year are to start clubs for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as well as arts and economics, raise money for the Dakota Access Pipeline water protectors in North Dakota and work on bringing back sports for next year. Lack of a sports program pushed many student-athletes to attend other schools this year and the Council wants to get them back.
“We used to have spirit week and every day had a different theme,” said 10th-grader Janessa, 15. “We want kids to get excited and get involved in activities like prom and pep rallies.”
The students also want to bring back more cultural activities such as attending Indian Day and playing stickball games. The Council plans to go before the School Board to ask for permission to use cell phones during lunch and take more field trips outside of Florida.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much potential the school has,” Mya added.
Janessa said participating on the Council is an important part of her education.
“It’s a step in bettering my leadership qualities,” she said. “I plan to come back and work for my Tribe, so being on Student Council is a way to improve myself.”