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Through 'committee projects,' students are being taught much more than simply coordinating school functions

I asked my younger brother the other day if he considered himself to be a leader in his fifth-grade class at school. He explained to me that he thought he was, and I couldn't help but ask why? After a bit of contemplation, he let out a sigh as he explained that he is the top of his class in most subjects and is often chosen first for positions on sports teams.

This question got me thinking about what the word leadership means to me. Being a part of the Molalla High School Associated Student Body leadership class helped me reach the conclusion that a leader does not depend on praise or recognition. But rather, leadership refers to a passion for helping others and yourself grow—a message the leadership class is always learning.

Beyond assemblies, dances, spirit weeks, and even Share the Love, there are not only endless hours of work, but so much more. Of course for ASB, fall means homecoming, February means Share the Love, and spring is Prom season; but in between, there is more than what meets the eye. This time between is used for committee projects.

COURTESY PHOTO: NATALEE LITCHFIELD - Pictured is the Molalla High ASB class in 2018 after visiting Mulino Elementary to teach environmental lessons.

Sophomore Cypress Barrett described the projects.

"[They are] a group of students that are put together to do something that helps the community or ourselves in some way," said Barrett.

Projects include teaching elementary school students about environmental issues, making crafts with the elderly in a senior home, volunteering to help the homeless, and completing a personal project to make ourselves happy.

During my freshman year, we received a project where we had to carry around a clear garbage bag for a week and collect our garbage. The task brought on a multitude of strange looks and questions from our peers, but it also allowed us to spread awareness of environmental degradation and waste.

Personally, I found the project to be inspiring and with a year of hard work following, MHS has stopped using polystyrene plates in the cafeteria, is currently working out proper waste disposal in the lunchroom through recycling receptacles and has a more enlightened student body due to presentations of environmental issues.

Kelsey Morgan, a junior at Molalla High, agrees that committee projects can have an extended impact beyond the intended project scope.

"I love everything our school has done to be more environmentally friendly in the past two years," said Morgan, "and I think it's awesome to see how it all started with a singular committee project."

Among environmental changes, committee projects have also urged students to create reform within the unorganized system of the MHS parking lot to enforce safety.

"The committee I was in earlier this year wanted to try and make some changes to the parking lot so it would be safer and easier to navigate before and after school," said Georgia Hunter, a student leader in the movement.

Taryn Monaghan, a junior class officer and third-year student in Molalla leadership, describes overcoming stressful project deadlines.

"You only usually get a couple weeks to do it, and you learn that a lot of the time plans fall through. But they are always really rewarding in the end," said Monaghan.

In accordance with the class, Cody Martin, senior class president, feels a sense of gratitude upon completion of these projects.

"One of my favorite ones we've ever done is when we made pillows for the children at Shriners Children Hospital and took them to them and gave them candy and the pillows and painted pumpkins with them too...I mainly learned to appreciate what I have. When you see people with less it makes you realize the stuff you take for granted every day," said Martin.

Of course, in asking my younger brother if he is a leader, I believed he was one. However, it's not because he is exemplary in his studies and an impressive athlete. But it's more due to the words of encouragement he never fails to offer his teammates on the baseball field, the helping hand he gives for homework to whomever needs it, and the level of hard work he puts in to do his absolute best.

Leadership means helping others (and yourself too sometimes) merely because it makes this world of ours a better place. Inside the ASB walls of room 108, student leaders are learning the power of a single smile, the potential student voices have to create change, and to always believe in themselves and the people around them even when life may appear bleak.

It seems to me that Molalla High School's ASB is being taught something everyone could use a bit more of—compassion.


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