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Running for Class President

By Lynne Rominger

Are you wondering how you can get to the head of the class? Go from geeky freshman one day to that extremely cool role of class president the next? Then here are some cool tips and pointers to help you get elected.

Extracurricular Super Freak    to top

Achieving the "Oval Office" of your class begins with getting involved your freshman year and continuing that involvement each year thereafter. Participate in sports, volunteer to work on homecoming floats, decorate the gym for dances, and basically get to know the other students at your school besides your core group of friends. Make everybody know your name. If your school offers a class associated with the student body, sign up. "Work the room," as they say and make a name for yourself within student government. When the time comes to run for class president, you'll be remembered in the voting booth for your involvement and dedication to the school.

Presidential Term
The student body is comprised of all the students in the school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors collectively. The student body president, then, is the president representing the entire school, not just one class.

On Your Mark, Get Set     to top

According to one Grizzley High School officer, Jen, the best way to begin your campaign "is to be the first to start campaigning." Jen told us she got out there and talked to people as soon as the political season opened. And kept talking. "In our school," she advises, "we have to get thirty-five student signatures [to earn a place on the ballot]. I talked to everyone and asked them all for signatures. I got as many signatures as possible, not just the thirty-five." Needless to say, Jen rocked when it came to campaigning. She hit it hard and fast. By campaigning early and diligently, she left her name and commitment ingrained in her fellow students ... and more than just a mere thirty-five, I might add.

Teacher's Pet    to top

Be one. You don't have to kiss up, but do build a rapport with a favorite teacher or two and keep your grades up. "You want to get in touch with the faculty, along with your classmates," advises a former Grizzley president, Ryan. Oftentimes, faculty members must provide recommendations for office eligibility. Also, the teachers want students in office who recognize their commitment to teaching and interest in the campus because student representatives are called upon to give their perspectives on campus life to committees or even at the district office. How does a teacher know whether or not you'd give an ethical representation of your school and its faculty? If they know you and the quality of your work, that's how.

Sign it     to top

Former and present class presidents interviewed for this article all agree: The bigger the sign, the better. More is also better. "Plaster the school with posters" was repeatedly advised. Apparently, bigger equals winner and more equals score. So get out the poster board, butcher paper, and paint. You've got some art to create and slogans to write.

Listen Up     to top

Keep your ear to the wall and listen to your classmates. Ask them what they want their president to accomplish while in office. Then, if realistic, decide to pursue the needs of the masses and showcase your intentions within your campaign speech, as well as informally around school. In the case of our Grizzley officers, for instance, their school just recently opened doors. Students there crave traditions. Therefore, the current president, Danielle, and her representatives are in the process of designing traditions and making them happen. Recent events include a Movie Night in the auditorium and a Sadie's Dance. Danielle heard her constituents and responded. You'll want to consider the nuances of your campus and listen to the particular wants of your potential constituents in deciding your campaign platform.

Believe     to top

Believe in what you say you plan to do in your campaign platform. If you say, for instance, that you plan to begin new traditions, believe in your goal. Don't repeat what you think your classmates want to hear. Instead, commit yourself to public service. At the same time, think "outside the box." Come up with your own creative goals for the school.

Absent from Roll Call
Don't ever make unrealistic campaign promises like "No School Wednesdays!" or "Extra Credit Points for Everyone!" By making silly promises, you'll lose credibility and your shot at the office.

Make 'Em Laugh    to top

Being a jokester may not work for Al Gore or George Bush, Jr., but in high school politics, comedians actually earn votes. When faced with questions on the campaign trail, according to Ryan, "the best answers are those where you make [the students] laugh but address the issue, too." He continues, "It's kind of like a heartfelt song and dance." The same goes for speeches. Throw in a joke or two, or doom yourself to dullsville and no votes.

Presidential Term
The campaign trail is the time (weeks, months) before the election when you "hit the pavement" of your campus and let everyone know who you are, what you are about, and the office for which you are running.

The campaign trail isn't easy. And each school operates its student governments differently. But armed with these simple and practical tips, you'll have a better chance of attaining life in public office. Good luck!

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