Junior steps down from StuCo state office

Story by Ricky Cooks, staff writer

“At this time, would the outgoing state officers please step back and the new officers step forward.”

A year ago, those words meant something totally different to me; they represented opportunity, new beginnings and an amazing year ahead me. Now that the amazing year is over, those words have snuck back up and rocked my world.

This is my experience of my year of being Vice-President of the Texas Association of Student Councils (TASC), aka one of the best years of my life.

Last April, in 2015, Texas High School ran for a state office. It was an exciting time for the school, and myself personally because I was chosen as the school’s representative to hold the office of vice-president. Granted, we had previously held a state office three other times, but it’s always a big moment for the school to be recognized in such a way. Fortunately, we were running unopposed, so the weekend was generally lax (for us) since my election was nearly inevitable.

Two months after the state conference I attended the TASC State Steering Retreat. It was a 3-day-long meeting between various representatives from student councils across the state. Also during that weekend, I got closer with some pretty amazing people: my fellow state officers.

We, along with the help of some good friends, came up with the state theme: Explore Now, Lead Forever. It was themed around space, meaning that our Annual Conference in 2016 would revolve around rockets, lasers and everything in-between. We were early into our term and already making big decisions. Near the end of that month, we travelled to Albuquerque, N.M., and I have to say that trip was not only one of the most enjoyable, but also the most memorable of my life. I bonded so much with the Texas delegation and I truly began to feel like we were a team of students ready to change lives for the better.

Near the end of the summer, we had our very first board meeting. We all learned that “the board speaks with one voice.” What that means is that we might have disagreements about certain things within our meetings, but once a decision is made, it’s what we share throughout the association. Through and through, the meeting provided a new aspect of being a state officer. The busiest summer of my life was over, and I’d never felt so accomplished before.

Whereas the beginning of second semester is insane at school, there wasn’t much going on in TASC besides the Advanced Workshops in January and February. Those have always been my favorite weekends ever, because I always left a better leader and with a renewed passion. Besides that, a lot of the winter months was just spent planning for the 2016 Annual Conference. The Vice-President school is in charge of the campaigning process: making sure rules are being followed, that everything is fair for all candidates and that the candidates are getting wherever they need to be. This year, 14 schools decided to run for state office. That is a lot of candidates, and at that point I knew we’d have a lot of work cut out for us.

Come April of 2016, months of planning and organizing had led to one event: the 80th Annual High School Conference. Texas High had a strong delegation of hard workers ready to take on the crucial responsibilities of the vice-president school. All before the conference, I was dispirited, knowing that it would be my last weekend as a state officer. Saddening mood aside, I was also ecstatic to see my friends from across Texas.

I can’t think of a more exciting moment in my life than waiting backstage before the first general session of the conference. There were 5,000 screaming teenagers dancing to “Star Wars” dubstep, fog floating around the entire room, lights blasting from corner to corner and an entire year of preparation—all for this specific moment. The show began, the music blared and we were brought on stage as emcees. I was so grateful to see my parents in the crowd; them being there made a bigger difference than they’ll ever know.

Dressed as the hottest space crew you ever did see, my fellow officers and I worked the stage and had an amazing time. To make it even more special, Mrs. Waldrep was announced as the state Advisor of the Year; I couldn’t imagine a more deserving woman. The second day of the conference was simple enough, we had another general session, watched the campaign skits and went to Six Flags. So far, the conference was amazing.

Now, we’ve reached the dreaded third day of Annual Conference, and my last day as state vice-president. All weekend I had held it together—I tried not to think about it too much. But while backstage on this third day, before the final session, I was bawling my eyes out. I couldn’t help but think about how close I’d become with the other officers and how I simply didn’t want to let go yet. The show started. I spoke a lot of lines, but my mind never left the fact that I was about to “pass the torch” to the next set of officers. When that time came, and the new officers were announced, I completely lost it on stage. It was ridiculously embarrassing, but at that moment I didn’t care. All I wanted was to go back to summer break when it seemed this opportunity would never end.

“At this time, would the outgoing state officers please step back and the new officers step forward.”

The words that I had equated to so much joy a year ago now became the very same words that represented the end of the best year of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited for what the new officers have in store. However, it just seemed like I was finally beginning to understand my role in TASC. I was finally beginning to understand who I had become because of my term. The new state president adjourned the conference and it was all over.

In reflection, I can honestly say that I’m okay with not being state vice-president anymore. I realized that everyone has their time to shine, and mine was pretty spectacular. I’d never felt so accomplished in my life— I had made my big impact.

Before this monster of a story comes to its end, I want to thank some people for positively impacting my life over the course of the year. First and foremost, I have to thank my advisor Mrs. Waldrep. She’s literally travelled the country with me and she’s always been there for me. There’s no one quite like her. Her husband, Roger, is also a huge inspiration and role model to me. My teachers deserve praise for putting up with my outrageous amount of absences. To Mrs. Terry Hamm, our esteemed director, you have no idea how much you’ve changed my life for the better. You’ve provided me with so much opportunity, I can never repay you.

Of course, my biggest thanks has to go to my fellow state officers: Salma, Sadphire, Ronnie, Kyle and Cassy. There was never a dull moment with you guys and I’ll never forget the bonds we’ve made over the year. It’s hard to find true friends, but with you, I did. I wish you all the best of luck in college.
My term as Vice-President of the Texas Association of Student Councils is something that I will hold with me for the rest of my life. So much happened over the year, it’s just impossible to not write about all of it. I have one more year left in high school, thus one more year left in TASC, so I’m excited to see what the future holds. New opportunities await, and because of the past year, I’m ready to take them on.