Behind the Scenes of Student Government

Kayla Lien, Editor-in-Chief

So far, it has been two and a half months into the 2019-2020 school year. Behind the seemingly cohesive oil rig of the school, there have been a lot of highs and lows behind the scenes. Let’s start with Homecoming Week. Every member of the student government spent over 10 hours here after everyone else left. We decorated every floor of this school, and by the end of the week, sweated paint out of our pores. Every paper star in the commons and on the treasurer’s office, I did that. The letters taped to the front doors, you have us to thank. We are the working bees, the honorary athletes who get our steps in by running all around the school. For over a week, I walked into this school in the dark and didn’t leave until the stars were in the sky. When I say I spent over 15 hours on East’s grounds one Friday, I’m not exaggerating. I have the texts to my mom to prove it. 

“Wow, you decorate. Poor you.” Oh, if only you knew. A large part of what we do, you never see. Teachers complain, students make snide remarks in the halls, and some of us are bullied to no-end on social media. The red sweater isn’t a source of pride, it’s a target. We have to make sure everything runs according to plan: all the dances, the games, the tailgates, stomps, assemblies, and on, while still getting beat down. While we’re coordinating, we’re also expected to be on top of our grades, to get the best grades, in fact. Frankly, most of us haven’t gotten a full 8 hours of sleep since August. 

On a more positive note, we have fun together. If we’re here after school, we’re blasting music and yelling down the halls for a phone charger. I feel bad for the teachers on either side of Bonnie’s room. At football games, we stay the whole time. By Saturday, our voices are gone and we sound like death warmed over. I’ve met so many new people, and re-met others I’ve known for years but never talked to. 

We went to camp over the summer, Student Body Officers and Senator Executives for five days, Class Officers and the rest of the Senate for three. It rained most nights and sometimes in the afternoon, someone’s tent flooded, and sleeping wasn’t easy. We had to pack up our food so bears didn’t stumble upon our site. No one smelled even passable by the end of it. As bad as all of that sounds, it was such a great experience.

When the rain started at 8pm, Nele Kaufusi got out her gigantic speaker and we all ended up dancing in the rain to Keyshia Cole’s “Love” and “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo. When tents flooded, we ended up having sleepovers with others where we could fit. The nights were sprinkled with Max Davis yelling, “Five-thirty! We’re going fishing! Five-thirty!” Surprise, surprise, he didn’t end up going. By the end of the week, we were all sharing food. Did you know that Sam Hurtado can make some bomb macaroni and cheese? On the bus ride home, we blasted Christmas music (yes, in July), and sat on all the coolers we had to pack in. 

For the first little while of the school year, we held onto that feeling. The unity, the togetherness of it all. Our motto for the year: We Are. And we’ve tried to encompass that feeling, but I must admit that it’s been getting hard. Things have happened and we’re trying to navigate the changing school environment and the polarizing situations that are arising. The culture here is becoming more and more extreme and it’s a scary thing to see. Most students can feel it, but fall victim to thinking it’s intrinsic and inescapable. How do we deal with the MESS in a way that doesn’t alienate anyone? How do we desegregate the lunch room without making anyone uncomfortable? It’s a dilemma and everyone is at a loss.

We’ve talked at length on this topic, but it’s easy to feel like we haven’t gotten anywhere. Kids still throw flour at football games and ignore every attempt to rectify it. Everything reflects back onto us, even if it’s not student government related. 

That’s something we need to talk about: the flour situation. Everyone knows it’s not allowed, yes? There have been countless times where administration, not Government or Senate, has informed the MESS that throwing anything results in immediately being kicked out of a game. This is faculty’s rules, not Student Governments, yet the student body’s anger is unfairly directed at us. Due to this, tensions have been intermittently high. People have threatened to quit their positions, even. Luckily, no such thing has happened yet, but there is still substantial worry that emotions will run rampant like this again. 

Dire as it all sounds, we haven’t lost hope. We’re still just as excited to make this school year the best we can, and make this place a home for every student, no matter what. With a classroom comprised primarily of minority students, we’re certainly trying to hear everyone’s voice. When we aren’t working on decorating the school or planning events, we can be found having dance parties or playing Uno with Steven Mayombe’s absolutely ridiculous rules. That isn’t to say we’re lazy or nonessential, we just find the fun in all the stresses of high school and kid-adult limbo. Most of us are involved in other time-devouring clubs and organizations, so the excuse to let everything out to the lyrics of Rex Orange County is certainly welcome. I have never been in a room as loud or chaotic or as paint-stained as student government’s, but I consider myself lucky to have this experience.