Student council receives national award

PARKERSBURG – The Blennerhassett Middle School Student Council has received a national award.

The council this month received a 2014 National Gold Council of Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Councils.

Teacher and council adviser Lisa Whirtly said the group applied for the award, filling out an exhaustive application that required 53 pieces of evidence to show the council’s efforts in areas of community service, civic engagement and school activities. The application process took nearly a month to complete, Whirtly said.

The gold award is the highest award available to a middle school student council through the National Association of Student Councils.

Selection to the Blennerhassett Student Council is by application rather than election, which removes a lot of the “popularity contest” that can distract students from the purpose of the group, Whirtly said. Each year’s council selects the members of the next year’s council from a pool of applicants. Whirtly said the group also is focused on activities and ways to help the school and community.

Whirtly said while she helps facilitate activities for the 20-member council, nearly all decisions and effort come from the students themselves.

“Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. That’s how they learn,” she said. “I facilitate when I can, but it is their ideas and their work that goes into them.”

The award also took on special meaning for the group. In February, Blennerhassett Middle Principal Jim Hostottle died. Whirtly said Hostottle had always been a firm supporter of student council.

“On his last day at school, the last thing he did for me was sign off on the application for this award,” she said.