Jamie Hyung ’23
Many students come to Mercersburg seeking unique opportunities, character-shaping experiences that will make them stand out from others and help them discover who they are in the world. The admission office promotes our school’s ability to provide this; their catchphrase, “Define Yourself Here” has cropped up on the website, in the prospective student viewbook, and in promotional videos. However, the school lacks the diverse, student-led, leadership opportunities that would allow students to accomplish this goal.
Current leadership roles at Mercersburg include prefects, proctors, help center fellows, and peer group leaders, to name but a few. These positions consist of mostly static duties; students spend their time guiding and helping others, following long-established protocols. The crucial component of student drive and initiative is missing from these leadership roles. Among a number of students, there has been a desire to take on more responsibility and become more actively involved in leadership.
“I feel like Mercersburg provides a lot of leadership opportunities but a lot of them do not fit into the true definition of leadership,” Priscilla Lee ’23 said. Leadership as a practical skill is the ability of an individual, group or organization to lead, influence or guide. Ideal leadership opportunities enable individuals to figure out their own direction while approaching the goal.
“I want to be involved with the arts, especially theater, but the only way to do so outside of PGAs is being a Burgin [Center] proctor,” Schuyler Waters ’23 added. “There are definitely ways that Burgin or Lenfest proctors could get involved in. Maybe like student coordinators or directors,” Natalie Kochova ’22 said.
Rather than having traditionally set opportunities, leadership roles at Mercersburg should be student-generated, and branch out into different departments: art, athletics, admissions, service, language proficiency, sustainability, etc. How would these, however, differ from student-led clubs? Clubs and student-run organizations allow individuals to establish the bases for pursuing their curiosity, whereas leadership roles require one to build trust from their classmates and are a great way to show expertise within a specific field and build confidence.
The slots for the “big and important” leadership positions are limited. Student Council is one of the prominent positions that students can hold with four roles. that consists of more than a hundred students. “I think that in our school, many people don’t naturally step up into higher leadership positions. You are able to see a trend that many of the leadership roles around campus are taken by the same people,” said Amanda Peh ’22.
As a community, Mercersburg prides itself on its willingness to accept student feedback in order to expand opportunities. It’s their turn again to listen to those student voices. Always wanting to improve their community, the members of the student body are more than willing to take responsibility in their hands and be part of making a change.