The Leadership Advisory Committee, run by Oyster River High School (ORHS) Principal Rebecca Noe, is one of the newest clubs at ORHS. Started as a project by two students from a Sociology class, the committee hopes to create positive change in the community of the school.
The Leadership Advisory Committee was created to allow Noe to incorporate further connections and more voices from students where they discuss various topics on how the school could be improved. However, many people have a misconception that Leadership Advisory Committee is just Senate but worse. People who attend the committee feel this is wrong.
But where did this committee come from? During Elise Paxton’s (‘23) Sociology class last year, she had a project with classmate Will Grove (‘23) which required her to find something in the school and improve on it. “I focused on how I believed that especially after COVID-19, but even before COVID, I saw a disconnect within the student body, and a lack of community. So, I wanted to combat that in different ways.”
When Noe found out what they wanted to do, she reached out to Grove and Paxton to propose her idea. “I reached out to [Grove and Paxton] who had voiced this in the circle that I happened to be in and said, ‘would you really be interested in starting something like this?’ Because I would love to have students who want to talk more about the school, and how to keep improving and meet,” she said.
After its creation, the Leadership Advisory Committee started discussing a multitude of topics, ranging from the current schedule to sophomore electives. “It’s kind of students just bouncing ideas off of each other, and personally listening and asking questions,” says Paige Burt (’23), the student school board representative.
For example, regarding sophomore electives, Noe was not aware of the unpopularity of the lack of choice within electives. “[Noe] said that she was going to keep that elective system going for at least five years, but we don’t like it. We think there are benefits to changing it back to the way it was. So, we keep having that conversation,” added Burt.
Noe also feels that more student opinions like these help her direct the school in the right direction. “Why I’d like to do it is because I don’t get a lot of communication necessarily from class offices or [Student Athlete Leadership Team], unless it’s around the pep rally or certain events that we’re doing. So, I really want to know what it is that students feel we need to work on? Or what is it that they feel we do really well?”
The Senate’s job in the school seems similar, however. Lucas Savage (‘24) explains his role as a senator. “I work with all the other senators and Jaclyn Jensen, our senate advisor, to help improve the school, connect with students, and work with them to make the school a better place,”
This makes some believe that the committee is not especially useful. Prior to joining, Tyler Nelson (‘23) the senior class treasurer, shared this viewpoint. “I was kind of bad-mouthing [the Leadership Advisory Committee]. Like ‘Oh, it’s just a worse Senate.’”
However, to Paxton, the difference seems pretty clear. “It can be hard to know whether somebody’s really passionate about Senate, but everybody who’s at the Leadership Advisory Committee and attending is there because they want to be there. They’re taking a flex to be there.” She believes that commitment to the committee could be one of the differences.
Additionally, while Senate is elected by students, the Leadership Advisory Committee is a lot less formal. “Not everybody is a leader in the way that you’re going to get up in front of a group and talk to everybody, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have ideas that want to be shared. So that was really important to me. There just were people who weren’t being represented, and I know that Noe saw that too. And literally anybody can comment. It’s just informal,” adds Paxton.
Although the group just had a couple of meetings, Noe believes that they are doing well. “[Class officers] are saying the same thing that the new Leadership Advisory Committee is saying; that tells me that everyone’s on the page.” The reassurance of everyone being on the same page benefits Noe. “The things that [Class officers] want to improve on, everybody is looking at the same things, which is good, because then those same things get improved on.”
Moving forward, Paxton hopes that after she graduates, the committee will continue to run. “I just want to see it continue as a sounding board for students, where they can at least feel like they’re going someplace and that at least the principal is hearing what they have to say.”
She believes everybody should get a voice, no matter what their role is. “You don’t have to run for Senate or do anything special or be anybody in particular to have your voice heard at the school.”