MONTPELIER — The student council from Bear Lake High School in Montpelier recently received state recognition from the Idaho Association of Student Councils.
Bear Lake council secretary, senior Victoria Reese, explained her council’s involvement in school functions. It was that involvement, like planning the prom and homecoming week festivities, which were measured against that of other student councils from across the state at a November conference.
“Then there were other things, like increasing school positivity through spreading positive messages to people — just increasing school spirit,” Reese told EastIdahoNews.com.
The Bear Lake council put together a portfolio and PowerPoint presentation cataloging its work, both within the school and the community surrounding it. Following similar presentations from over 900 student council officers from schools statewide, Bear Lake was awarded the Outstanding Student Council Award from the association.
Bear Lake teacher and student council advisor Tammy Stephens told EastIdahoNews.com it is a combination of kind hearts and a hard work ethic that led this group to earn the recognition.
Council vice-president and Bear Lake senior Lucy Long concurred with Stephens, based on her experiences having lived in other areas before returning to Montpelier.
“I’ve been a couple of different places — I actually just moved back (to Montpelier) last year — and I don’t think there’s any other school like this one, honestly, where kids are this kind and really care about being involved,” she said.
Involvement is key to the council’s success. The Bear Lake High School student body is comprised of fewer than 300 students, and 27 of those students — roughly 10% of the student body — are members of the student council.
Even with that impressive level of involvement, though, Bear Lake took one of the smallest contingents to the conference last month in Boise — just 19 students.
Despite its minuscule number — by comparison — Long said the Bear Lake group was among the loudest and proudest at each event. That boisterous demeanor earned the group a second award — the Tiny But Mighty Spirit Award.
The idea of “small but mighty” may have been no more on display than it was in November when the student council representing the tiny Bear Lake High School fed some 300 people.
Long explained the effort, saying senior council officers, dressed to the nines, went business to business in town asking for donations.
“The seniors go around (town), most of the time dressed in nice clothes like prom dresses, to businesses and ask for donations. That’s how we got most of our money,” she said.
“I think it’s good because we can get everyone in the community involved — the teachers here, the local businesses,” council president and senior Preston Hardcastle said. “It’s good to have everybody come together for something like that. It shows that no matter how many people you have, you can always put in enough effort to make sure that all your people have a good time.”
With the donations of money and food, the council members loaded 78 turkeys and all other accoutrements for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner into Reese’s Dodge Caravan and delivered Thanksgiving dinner to 82 families.
“(The car) didn’t break, so it was good,” Reese said with a laugh.
Collecting donations to feed families in the community is a tradition for the Bear Lake Student Council that began 26 years ago — or, as Reese put it, “way back in the ’90s.” But this year, according to Stephens, was a record for how many people were fed.
With their Thanksgiving work behind them, however, the students of the Bear Lake High School Student Council don’t get to rest. They now shift their focus to their “Secret Santa” program. Through it, the students collect wish lists from area families who would otherwise struggle to provide gifts to their children.
Those children’s wishes are then “adopted” by families with the means to assist. Gifts are then collected by the council and delivered to the families.
“I see, on a daily basis, how much they work, how hard they work, how much they step out of their comfort zones to do so much for the school and for other people,” Stephens said. “There is something special about this particular group. … They’ve really made this year special for me.”