Roswell High School’s student council has been honored as the state’s Student Council of the Year from the New Mexico Association of Student Councils (NMASC) for the third year in a row.
Junior Estrada, senior class president, explained this is the first year for RHS to earn a platinum distinction. A platinum award comes only after a council is designated as Student Council of the Year for three consecutive years. One additional award was for the council’s health and safety project, where they hosted free dental work and an eye glass clinic in the school’s gym.
Last February, the RHS student council earned a gold award after receiving the same NMASC distinction.
To be eligible for the Student Council of the Year award, each participating student council must complete 10 projects in the following categories: community service, citizenship, school service, environmental awareness, staff relations, health and safety, school spirit, membership motivation, fundraising and the state children project.
Each council is required to create a binder providing information about the council and all of the projects, which is then graded by a board of retired student council advisors.
Saying he was “very proud,” Ernest Lujan, the student council’s advisor for the past three years, said he witnessed the greatest student leadership in action this year and it was the most exciting year, seeing the students grow as leaders and team members.
“Being able to win it one year and to earn the right to be called Student Council of the Year is an awesome feature,” Lujan said. “But to do it three years in a row — and then receive the platinum award — is something to really be acknowledged and proud of.”
Lujan said the council has 180 members, 40 to 60 active members and 30 “diehards.” He said 19 students went to the state competition and they were one of the largest groups at the three-day leadership convention in Farmington.
In addition to serving as RHS officers, Junior Estrada and Winnie Keller are NMASC district officers.
Lujan said Keller also holds a state NMASC office as secretary, a distinction that hasn’t happened at RHS since the 80s.
Keller said as a state officer her responsibilities include attending executive board meetings to organize and attend annual NMASC conferences and workshops and determine NMASC actions by hearing feedback from students across the state.
“It’s really an honor, especially it was a lot of work — they’ll tell you,” Keller said. “I’m really just honored to be able to represent us and represent Roswell High, especially because they’ve been so welcoming and wonderful to me, and I’m really excited to be able to improve NMASC …”
According to a Carlsbad Current-Argus article, Keller was a 2017 New Mexico True Hero (as recognized by former Gov. Susana Martinez) for fundraising for individuals battling various diseases.
During their interview, the council members shared laughs, inside jokes and reflected on their last year together. Estrada said the council’s haunted house fundraiser was his favorite, despite being difficult, and it strengthened the familial bond of the council. Lujan said some students dedicated 36 volunteer hours for this event alone.
“To me, a leader — it’s not really you’re going out and just showing people that you’re a dictator,” K-Din Cox, junior class president, said. “You’re showing love. You’re showing patience and kindness. You’re constantly being around your peers and showing them, guiding them, how to work as council — not really just here in the schools, just out in our communities as well. We’re changing the world a little bit at a time, and what we’re doing is to spread positivity, and we’re here for everybody. That’s what leadership means.”
Student council officers serve in a number of roles.
Student body president and vice president are Pedro Medina and Evalyn Zavala respectively. For the senior class, President Junior Estrada, Vice President Destiny Estrada, Secretary Jamileth Pena and Treasurer Marcus Castro are the officers.
President K-Din Cox, Vice President Manuel Archuleta, Secretary Vanesa Castro and Treasurer Xochil Anchondo serve the junior class.
Sophomore President Oscar Estrada, Vice President Angela Velasquez, Secretary Karime Boranda — and Ethan Benitez and Alexa Archuleta, freshmen class president and vice president — represent the underclassmen.
“These are the most welcoming kids on campus and they’re like the nicest,” Keller said after explaining she attended a student council meeting before becoming a student at RHS. “And we all do so much for the community — and its really not for just to say ‘Oh, we did it. Oh, we’re student council of the year,’ but we get so much more out of it in addition to that. Being able to help others is really more rewarding than any title.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.