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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

East Prairie Student Council wins office

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Pictured from left are: adviser Brett Blackman, student body president Jacob Poore, secretary Kelly Hutcheson and media relations commissioner Claire Secoy.
EAST PRAIRIE -- A little campaigning, a hot dance number and some hard work paid off for members of the East Prairie R-2 High School's Student Council this past weekend. The council was elected first vice president of the Missouri Association of Student Councils.

"If there is anything you can compare this to, it would be like one of our sports teams winning a state championship," said adviser Brett Blackman. "This is the highest leadership post in the state that a school our size could have reached because of its size."

After being nominated by Kelly High School in Benton, East Prairie's Student Council declared its intentions to run for the office of first vice president earlier this month.

And last Thursday and Friday, delegates from East Prairie High vigorously campaigned, meeting students from all over the state and handing out pencils and sunglasses at the MASC annual convention at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis.

Prior to their win, East Prairie delegates performed a skit to music from the "Footloose" soundtrack, and by Saturday morning, East Prairie learned they had won the state office -- a first for the school. East Prairie defeated seven other schools for the position.

"This is as big as it gets for us. We were elated," noted Jacob Poore, East Prairie student body president.

As first vice president school for the state, East Prairie will plan for and find workshops for next year's state convention as well as serve on a student advisory board to the adult executive board.

East Prairie didn't run for the presidential office because the president school must be able to host the state convention which yields about 1,300 delegates from all over the state.

"We were the (MASC) Southeast District president last year and wanted to build off of that so we decided to run for state," Poore explained about the Council's decision to run.

MASC Director Terri Johnson of St. Joseph pointed out a small school like East Prairie holding the state office is somewhat rare.

"Typically, it's the little schools that don't think they can do it or feel overwhelmed about competing against the larger schools," Johnson said. "East Prairie participants are very active in the association and the adviser (Blackman) is phenomenal. He really encourages that anything is impossible despite the size you are."

Johnson said she hopes other schools will follow East Prairie's lead and believe they can get involved at the state level. Although Cape Central and Farmington schools were state presidents a few years ago, no other Southeast Missouri schools have held a state office in recent years, she said.

MASC has a membership of about 300-plus schools, both public and private, and hosts a convention every year.

However, not all memberships have to be in attendance at the convention, Johnson pointed out.

In addition to East Prairie, three other school districts from Southeast Missouri ran for state offices, but they didn't win. Farmington ran for president; Meadow Heights ran for first vice president and Dexter ran for secretary.

"The entire Council has worked extremely hard this year," said Blackman. "In doing so, we have accomplished my greatest feat. Winning the first vice-presidency of MASC is by far the greatest accomplishment for our school and Council."

Typical goals for Student Councils include providing leadership training to students and providing community services and functions.

Poore, for one, admitted his public speaking skills have improved by participating in Student Council.

"Last year it was difficult to speak in a discussion group of 15-20 people, and this ear on several occasions, I've gotten in front of a crowd of 1,000 people and talked or danced," Poore said.

But students also say the organization is about friendship.

"It brings you a lot closer to your classmates because you spend a lot of time together," said Claire Secoy, East Prairie Student Council media relations commissioner.

Student Council really and truly does make school a better place for everyone, agreed East Prairie Student Council secretary Kelly Hutcheson.

"We're involved in organizing a lot of the things that go on here," Hutcheson said. "A lot of things are serious at school, and it feels good just to be able to make it fun."