She takes a deep breath, puts on her best smile, and stares out at the thousands of student council members before her. On every face, she sees opportunity. She can save the girl in the front row from self-harm or the boy sitting by the aisle from bullying if she’s elected. But first, she has to make it through this speech.
Student Council, with Cynthia Yanez as their representative, will contend for the president position of the Texas Association of Student Councils at their state conference beginning Sunday.
“To be TASC president has been a goal of mine since the first time I attended the State Conference as a freshman,” Yanez said. “We have been working toward this goal for the longest, and this would be the greatest accomplishment of the DHS Student Council.”
Student council adviser David Womack is familiar with the campaign regulations because he underwent a similar process when a previous council ran for president in 2012. He’s guiding the students through the steps which include: adopting a platform, becoming well-informed on said platform and preparing a booth, skit, and handouts all on a $1,000 budget.
“I think one of the more challenging parts was taking the ideas and formulating them into a platform and skit that flowed smoothly,” Womack said. “We had to turn the ideas into something tangible. Then, put the pieces together.”
Yanez is already aware of the challenge ahead of her, and she feels prepared.
“A leader is one who sees an opportunity, commits to it, takes initiative, and assembles a team to bring that concept to life,” Yanez said. “I’ve seen the leadership roles a president has to live up to and I believe I am capable of doing so. I promise to my council and high school that I will live up to the true qualities of a leader and positively influence others.”
The campaign process began at the start of this school year. The council chose their platform, “Talk About It”, because it was a project close to everyone’s hearts after the recent death of High Hat Tasmia Allen.
“The main purpose was to make students feel like they don’t have to keep anything a secret,” Sophomore Esteban Andrade said. “They can share it with others, because we are all experiencing our own challenges. Our platform allows students to support themselves while supporting others.”
Teaming up with Teen Contact, Yanez and the rest of her council created a platform that would allow students to express themselves and air their problems.
“We certainly believed this project would have a positive impact not for only our school but for other schools and communities,” Yanez said.
The council created a “Talk About It” themed week to better spread their message to the student body. The activities began on Monday with the poetry slam and concluded with Friday’s balloon release.
“We touched based on the most common issues such as dating violence, self esteem, bullying, and stress,” Yanez said. “Each activity gave a chance for a student to communicate and find a solution to their problem.”
Yanez’s favorite event was “Let it Go” on Friday. Students wrote something that was bothering them on a balloon and released it.
“This activity touched most of our hearts,” Yanez said. “It gave each one of us a chance to finally get rid of all the weight off our shoulders.”
Yanez admits that it was challenging to spread the message and include the large student body, but she was proud of the impact they were able to make.
“Seeing each person participate brought happiness, also knowing that we had made an impact onto someone’s life,” Yanez said.
Yanez has been counting down the days until the state convention. With under week left, the council is putting the finishing touches on their campaign and practicing their skit repeatedly.
“We are ready to share the project and make an impact on as many people as possible,” Yanez said.
Yanez is confident that her team will give it their all to win the campaign.
“My student council is made up of determined and motivated individuals,” Yanez said. “Perseverance, confidence, and communication are the qualities that will help us win.”
However, if the council is not chosen to represent their state as president, Yanez will take back a very important lesson from the experience.
“If we aren’t successful, we will certainly learn that it wasn’t meant to be,” Yanez said. “What really matters was all the effort we put into this platform, the things we learned from working with each other, and the people we impacted.”