The senior class student council just does not receive the respect it is owed. Five courageous seniors–Dione Lalo, Ashley Cole, Alex Lieberman, Melissa Valle, and Kelly Salazar–take upon themselves the daunting task of navigating their entire class through the storm-tossed sea that is senior year. Helped only by their equally burdened advisers, Mr. Todd Jensen and Mrs. Stephanie Martinez, they perform all the dirty work needed to raise money for and organize the prom and Senior Trip.
Prom and Senior Trip are the screaming coaches at the finish line, but the mile markers along the way are the many events that the Council must organize. This includes Homecoming, the Talent Show, and Faculty Night Live, to name a few. If you see the Council members in the hallways selling baked goods or pizza, remember that a $5 slice of pie could be the difference between having a dead mouse or Deadmau5 DJ the prom.
But who are the Council members? Much rumor has been floating about, but the truth is that the truth is stranger than what the tabloids say.
Alex Lieberman has been elected to the Council three years in a row, and is currently Class Historian. As a sophomore, he introduced the agenda sale. In the first year that the school did not provide agendas for the students, he proposed selling them to his fellow students to raise revenue and help them keep track of their busy lives. Lieberman is a sprinter for the outdoor track team, and a fine one too. When he’s not kicking up rubber behind him, he’s kicking up snow on the ski slopes. Lieberman succeeded in reinvigorating the Hopatcong Red Cross club as a Junior last year, something which testifies to his lifelong devotion to the needy. In his free time, he also plays drums and piano, for which he was awarded Class Vocalist this year. He is also a member of the National Honor Society and was picked to attend the American Legion Boys State this past summer. After high school, he has considered attending the University of Michigan and wants to be a film production executive.
Ashley Cole is also serving her third consecutive year as a council member, and is Vice President. Her contributions include the conception of the Gertrude Hawk fundraiser. Since she began this in her junior year, the Class of 2013 has benefited tremendously from the chocolate sales. She is a longtime practitioner of the noble art of karate, and teaches it in her spare time. (No wonder she can take on the toughest of jobs without so much as a bat of the eyelid). She is also a member of N.H.S., and hopes to attend either TCNJ or Lehigh University. Her experience in the Council will affect her life more directly than anyone else’s, as she hopes to become a corporate business manager.
Kelly Salazar, the Secretary, briefly flirted with Cross Country. She is a first time Council member but compensates for her lack of experiences with a love for her school, having played an integral role in Powderpuff and Banner Night. She cites, as an experience which prepared her for Council, her time in Girl Scouts. She hopes to attend either Rutgers or Monmouth University, and aspires to be a dentist.
Melissa Valle, the Treasurer, is another newcomer to the council. She is not new, however, to using cunning, pseudo-deception, and trickery to achieve her ends, skills that she has honed to perfection in her years as a lawyer for the Mock Trial team. Outside of Council, she has participated in the Forensics Club, picking up skills she will no doubt bring to her study of criminal justice at John Jay College in New York.
Dione Lalo, Class President is a second year Council member, having served her junior year. Lalo is a veteran tennis player, and has also competed in outdoor track. Her plans for life include trying to decide between TCNJ, Quinnipac, Ramapo, or Richard Stockton University for her higher education, where she hopes to prepare to earn her nursing major and one day become a doctor.
Five paragons of everything right with America. They love their job, but do they really? Nothing is harder, they say, than trying to procure the cooperation of 170 other students. “I don’t think sometimes they understand how hard it is,” Salazar lamented, “but nobody actually knows until they’re wearing the shoes.”
The two class advisers, are referred to by the councilmen as “Mommy and Daddy.” Jensen teaches Psychology, Forensic Psychology, and US History. Martinez teaches Biology and Forensic Science. This year marks the end of their first run at managing a student council, and their feelings are mixed.
“It’s not easy,” Jensen said. “It’s a difficult task to try and get 170 kids to work toward these goals that are four years away.” The greatest failure, he said, was freshman year, because of the difficulty of motivating the then-Council members to get any significant work done. “It got better as we matured,” he reflects. “The students did a good job of voting in the students they knew would work for them.”
“It doesn’t come out perfect the first time,” Salazar reminds us. Wise words. And not just for Student Council, but for life itself. Perhaps we can all learn a little bit from these individuals about how to do that little bit of extra work to get the job done. Well there is something that you can all do right now: Open your wallet and buy some stuff! Hurry now, that prom isn’t going to pay for itself.