Student government leaders from across the state converged on Juneau-Douglas High School on Thursday for the 40th annual fall student government conference hosted by the Alaska Association of Student Governments.
The fall conference is one of two student government conferences put on every year by AASG, which works in connection with the Alaska Student Activities Association in coordinating the events. Approximately 330 students attended the most recent conference, host advisor and JDHS Vice Principal Kristy Germain said.
“It’s really a big student council meeting,” she said.
The focus of the event is on leadership development, networking and, most importantly, drafting resolutions for state officials to consider when making big decisions.
“It gives our students a voice in the process,” Germain said.
Students draft resolutions that are important to their schools, communities or regions, and then those ideas are debated by a general assembly of students. If the resolution is adopted, it will be forwarded to the appropriate state authority — such as the governor, a city government body or a school board — for their consideration.
Students also select a group amongst themselves as finalists for the student representative position on the state board of education; the board then does an interview process with those finalists and selects its representative.
Adults help facilitate the event, but the decision-making comes from the students, Germain added.
“The focus on it being student-led has stayed constant,” said Germain, who has been involved with the conference since attending as a freshman in high school in 1993.
In addition to the resolutions and leadership election processes, students break into groups to learn about the community around them and about how things work in the world outside of high school.
This year, groups went to the University of Alaska Southeast to learn about student life, the recreation center and dorm life. Others went to learn about how the hatchery and Juneau Empire operate.
There were also various workshops offered on a wide range of topics such as suicide prevention, bullying, tobacco use, social media use, hip hop dancing, school spirit and creative writing and art.
“It was so eye-opening to learn a lot of new things and meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” said Skagway sophomore Al Weber.