It may have been the Maryland Association of Student Councils convention, but it was Anne Arundel County Public Schools that took center stage last week.
Meade High School junior Justin Peleska was elected president of the statewide organization for the 2021-2022 school year and South River High School sophomore Caroline Finn was elected treasurer. In addition, South River High School junior Arusa Malik was named Outstanding Student Leader for her work with as Outreach Coordinator for the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC), the representative organization of all AACPS secondary school students that provides students with opportunities to develop leadership skills, promote good sportsmanship, and to initiate improvements and activities for the general good of AACPS students.
“It’s just an amazing opportunity every day to be able to work with a group of students who are so dedicated and committed to improving themselves and the world around them,” said Stacy Pellegrin, AACPS’ Administrator for Student Support Services and Involvement, who serves as the CRASC adviser.
Peleska is currently CRASC’s Chief of Staff while Finn serves as Secretary of Service for the organization. Malik is CRASC’s Outreach Coordinator and serves as a community liaison for CRASC’s Let’s Talk Justice Initiative, a multi-faceted forum for students to discuss issues related to racism, discrimination and social justice.
AWARDS FOR LINDALE MIDDLE SCHOOL, SOUTH RIVER HIGH SCHOOL
In addition to the individual awards, Lindale Middle School received MASC’s prestigious Felix Simon Award for Leadership and Service and South River High School’s Backpacks for Baltimore program was named the Outstanding Project/Activity.
The Felix Simon Award is given to school Student Government Associations who demonstrate their effectiveness through organizational involvement at the state and regional level; council structure, communication, and process; and the impact of their work on their school and community. Prior to this year, AACPS had not had a Felix Simon Award winner since 2010-2011.
“Our Student Government Association has strived very hard over this past year to become a council of excellence and even though the school year has looked very different, our students were able to accomplish their goal of supporting the students and staff at Lindale,” said Leah Noreiga, who leads the SGA along with Shari Endo. “The virtual world did not stop our students. Instead, it made them more focused and determined to make Lindale great. This award shows us that hard work and determination pays off in the end.”
South River’s backpack effort aims to help low-income schools in Baltimore City by donating backpacks filled with school supplies directly to those who need them most, regardless of their financial situation. Last year, the group donated 50 fully stuffed backpacks to Hawthorne Elementary. It has a goal this year to donate 100 fully stuffed backpacks and include items like hand sanitizer and masks.