A History of the NJAHSC/NJASC
The history of the NJASC demonstrates successful student leadership and effective action. The NJASC improves the operation of individual student councils, and takes a leadership role in training New Jersey's student leaders of today as the adult leaders of tomorrow.
Your Student Leadership Organization
The New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC) is the nation's oldest student leadership organization. Since its inception in 1927 as the New Jersey Association of High School Councils, the NJASC has continually evolved and constantly been at the forefront of student leadership and student issues. The NJASC is dedicated to helping middle and high school student councils to be more active and engaged in their schools and communities. Throughout the school year, the NJASC works with both student leaders and student council advisors to encourage participation in student government and provide a forum for students to network and share ideas for successful projects and events. In 2006, the NJASC updated its certificate of incorporation in the State of New Jersey and reconfirmed its long-time status as an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) corporation. Contributions to the NJASC are tax deductible.
Each summer the NJASC sponsors a Leadership Training Conference, a 4-day retreat where students learn critical leadership skills including communication and public speaking, problem solving, respecting diversity, project planning, and managing conflict. Each January, over 1500 student leaders from middle and high school student councils throughout the state convene at the NJASC's annual Convention. Students elect their statewide representatives to the NJASC Executive Board and the New Jersey State Board of Education. In addition, students attend a variety of student-led workshops on such topics as planning successful charity events and creative ways to boost school spirit. Awards are given for the Top Ten Student Council Projects, Honor School Student Councils, as well as the High School and Middle School Student Leaders of the Year. Each May the NJASC sponsors a Spring Awards Program, at which awards are given for support of the State Charity and the Standards of Excellence program. Each October, the NJASC sponsors a Fall Business Meeting, at which the Administrator and Advisor of the Year are honored. During all of these meetings, students gather to interact with one another, exchange ideas and expand opportunities for their individual school student organizations. In 2006, the NJASC became a registered professional development provider with the State of New Jersey Advisors, and provides opportunities for advisors to receive professional development credit at each of these meetings.
The NJASC demonstrates a tradition of excellence and innovation in student leadership. Additionally, the NJASC enables New Jersey student councils to uniquely promote school and community pride. As an example, the NJASC has adopted a different state charity each school year. The adopted charity is selected by the students of the NJASC executive board, and funds are raised individually by the state's middle and high school student councils. The annual program was begun in the early 1970s, and expanded to the current format approximately ten years later. In that format, the selected charity must benefit a cause within the state of New Jersey; individual schools are recognized for their efforts during the NJASC Spring Awards Program. To date, more than $2 million has been contributed by New Jersey students through the NJASC to its State Charity program.
The Early Years
The first interscholastic conference of student council representatives was held in New Jersey on January 14, 1927. The conference invitations were extended by the student council of New Brunswick Senior High School. Plans for the conference were made by the New Brunswick High School student council and their advisor, Miss Freda Wobber, with the help of Dr. Elbert K. Fretwell, a Professor of Education at Columbia University. No conference of a similar nature had been held anywhere in the country prior to this date.
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Before the conference adjourned, East Orange High School extended an invitation for the next conference to be held at their school in 1928. This very successful second conference was followed by others at Hackensack High School in 1929, Columbia High School in 1930, and Montclair High School in 1931. The number of delegates increased with each succeeding conference. The 6th conference was called and organized by the student council of New Brunswick Senior High School and was held for the first time on a college campus. The New Jersey College for Women, later named Douglass College, extended an invitation through the New Brunswick student council to act as hosts for more than 400 delegates from 49 high schools in attendance. During the business meeting of the conference, there was extensive debate on the question of forming a state association. The decision was YES and Columbia High School was selected to write the constitution and also to act as host for the next conference. In 1933, The New Jersey Association of High School Councils (NJAHSC) - as the NJASC was originally known - was formally established by a vote of 620 delegates representing 70 schools.
The responsibilities of the state student council have increased each year. From its earliest years, the NJASC has trained, organized and channeled student leadership to make New Jersey's schools the best in the nation. To achieve this, the NJASC has worked to involve everyone - students, faculty, administrators, school board, parents and the larger community.
Organizational Evolution and Change
NJAHSC becomes NJASC
The NJASC has changed throughout its eighty years. The NJASC constitution has been revised at frequent intervals to reflect those changes, and to enable the organization to function more effectively in carrying out its objectives. During World War II, an amendment was approved dividing the state into four sections. The purpose of this amendment was to require all officers in any one year to come from one section, and to provide for yearly rotation of sections. This system made it possible for the officers to meet more frequently during the days of gasoline rationing, and was largely responsible for the almost 100 percent attendance of the executive board members at their monthly meeting.
A revised constitution was adopted by the delegates attending the business meeting at the 1953 annual convention. The revisions covered a period of several years, and were directed mainly at giving a greater share of responsibility to the student officers. Additionally, faculty sponsors serving on the organization's advisory committee were to be chosen by sections, and the organization's executive secretary was to be elected by the advisory committee for a three year term. Sponsorship of the organization was formally vested in the New Jersey Secondary School Principals Association, and this relationship remained for more than forty years.
In 1957, the size of the executive board was increased to eight with the addition of a Junior High School representative. At the same time, the organization's advisory committee was increased by the addition of a Junior High School sponsor. Subsequent years have resulted in further changes. Amendments were added giving the executive secretary more discretion in establishing the annual convention date, simplifying the amendment procedures and allowing membership from county and sectional student council (government) groups.
During the early 1970s, the constitution was again changed do divide the state into two sections to minimize travel time but not exclude any student from office during his or her school career. In the late 1970s, another major constitutional change was enacted, recognizing the long-term involvement of junior high schools within the organization. The constitutional amendment changed the organization's name from the original as established in 1927 (New Jersey Association of High School Councils - NJAHSC) to the current name: New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC). Another amendment was accepted in 1980 at the Fall business meeting at Rider College. In that amendment, the NJASC State Board of Education representative was established as a yearly appointment and as a non-voting member of the NJASC executive board. Later amendments have updated the organization's structure and operation for the 21st century and its communication opportunities.
Originally incorporated in 1960, the NJASC updated its certificate of incorporation in the State of New Jersey in 2006 and also reconfirmed its more than thirty-year status as an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) corporation. At the 2008 Fall Business Meeting, amendments to the constitution were ratified to reflect this updated status. As a New Jersey corporation, the NJASC is guided by a legally constituted Board of Trustees, at least 50% of whom are student council advisors. As a student organization, the NJASC Executive board is well-represented on the Board of Trustees by one current officer, an officer from a recent Executive Board and at least two additional former officers.
Essential Advisor Continuity
Our Executive Secretaries/Directors
From the organization's beginning, a faculty executive secretary has provided continuity between successive administrations of student officers and their advisors. Mrs. Freda Marden (formerly Miss Freda Wobber) of New Brunswick Senior High School informally served in this capacity from the start, and was formally elected by the sponsors attending the annual convention in 1942. Shortly thereafter, an advisory committee was set up as the sponsoring group of the NJAHSC. The members were identified as two principals, the student president of the NJAHSC and their advisor, two sponsors, the executive secretary and an ex-officio representative of the New Jersey State Department of Education. In this way, the organization received the active support of the New Jersey Secondary School Principals Association, as well as guidance from the group as a whole.
Mrs. Marden retired as executive secretary in 1963, following more than 35 years with the NJAHSC. As the result of her guidance and leadership, the organization was firmly established. The number of schools involved in 1927 was 14, and the number in 1962 was 379. The number of delegates to the annual convention increased from 50 in 1927 to 2,500 in the 1950s and 1960s. Communication between the organization and its member schools grew from one to two letters a year to over 5,000 pieces of mail a year. In the first years, the only communication was by letter; at the end of Mrs. Marden's tenure, communication included reports of the monthly executive board meetings, letters from the executive board and the executive secretary, NJASC Reviews, a yearbook and student council posters. Additionally, the organization's annual Leadership Training Conference was started during her tenure, in 1956.
Mr. Robert Withey succeeded Mrs. Marden, and helped gain recognition and support for NJAHSC in the State Department of Education. As executive secretary, Mr. Withey helped the state student officers gain positions on important committees, and expanded the influence of state student council in New Jersey education. Mr. Withey resigned his role as executive secretary in 1969 to become Commissioner of Education for the State of Vermont.
Mr. David D. Oxenford became executive secretary in 1970 and served until January 1977. Also advisor for the student council at Point Pleasant Beach High School, Mr. Oxenford was instrumental in leading the New Jersey Association of High School Councils into a new era. The NJAHSC celebrated its 50th Annual Convention in January 1976. Additionally, the name of the organization was changed to reflect the increasing role of junior and middle level schools. This effort was led by Ellen Moulton, the organization's Junior High School member from Madison Junior High School. Finally, the organization increased the size of its executive board to formally include a non-voting member, a student representing NJASC on the State Board of Education. (Prior to this, the State Board of Education representative had been a rotating position amongst the NJAHSC executive board.)
During Mr. Oxenford's years, New Jersey began to play an important role on the national level. The NJAHSC/NJASC increased its visibility and leadership in the National Association of Student Councils. As a direct result of New Jersey efforts, the national conference opened its doors to a limited number of junior high school students in 1972; increased junior high and middle school student participation increased shortly thereafter. Also, the National Executive Secretaries became a formal organization at the Atlantic City National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Conference; Mr. Oxenford became its second chairperson in 1974.
In 1977, Mr. Henry Miller became the NJASC's executive secretary. Mr. Miller also served as executive secretary of the New Jersey Association of Secondary School Principals. During his three years in this dual capacity, the NJASC Spring business meeting was reemphasized. The 1978 executive board held the first Spring Business Meeting at Great Adventure. Now an annual event, Great Adventure regularly gathers more than 2,000 student leaders for a day of leadership recognition, reward and fun toward the end of a successful school year.
In 1980, Mr. Walter Angilly, advisor for the Student Regalia Association of Boonton High School, became executive secretary of the NJASC. With his wife, Mrs. Beth Angilly, as co-executive director (the title changed from executive secretary during the Angilly tenure), they successfully guided the NJASC for the next fifteen years. (Beth was advisor for the student council at John Hill School, also in Boonton.) During these years, the NJASC further expanded its active participation in both the National Association of Student Councils and on state issues. Mr. Angilly was elected twice as president of the National Association of State Student Council Executive Directors (NASSCED).
The Angilly years stressed the importance of regional workshops, and support of NEED, National Energy Education Day. New Jersey took the lead in energy education; through Governor Brendan Byrne and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, the NJASC worked to make New Jersey students advocates of energy education in the 1980s. In addition, the NJASC renewed its active encouragement of advisor training during these years. Mr. Angilly worked with and through the New Jersey Association of Secondary School Principals and Supervisors (NJASSPS) and Mr. Miller (former NJASC executive secretary and NJASSPS executive secretary) to offer training programs for new advisors. This training was part of the NJASSPS professional improvement program.
From 1996 to 2005, the executive director of the NJASC was Mr. Joseph C. Fasanella (Fas). First joined by Ms. Susan Dennen (1996-2000) and later by Mr. James Nolan (2001-2005) as co-executive directors, Fas continued the long tradition of advisory excellence for the NJASC. As Student Council advisor at Holy Cross High School in Delran, Fas was the first NJASC executive director to come from a parochial school. He and Mr. Nolan truly expanded the NJASC's presence across the state's geography. In addition, they guided the organization up to its' celebration of the 50th annual NJASC Leadership Training Conference in 2005; Fas celebrated his own 25 years as a member of the LTC Staff in 2004. Together, Fas and Mr. Nolan nurtured the NJASC in its annual selection of a state theme and state charity, worked to expand Advisor training and recognition, and continued to promote the organization's rich history of student leadership. Both Fas and Jim Nolan continue to serve our association today. Fas retired from Holy Cross, but remains involved with NJASC as its' Office Manager and LTC Conference Director. Jim is now Activities Director at Holy Cross, and remains a Senior Counselor at LTC.
In September 2005, Mrs. Wendy Booth Sitzler of Palmyra High School became NJASC Executive Director. She was joined in June 2006 by Mr. Lou Miller of Brooklawn Middle School in Parsippany. Both were experienced Student Council advisors at their own schools before becoming Executive Directors, each having been recognized for excellence as the NJASC State Advisor of the Year - Wendy in 2004 and Lou in 2005. Such recognition as outstanding advisors would continue while Executive Directors of NJASC; at the 2010 National Conference of the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) in Indianapolis, Lou was presented with the National Warren E. Shull Middle Level Adviser of the Year award; in 2011 Wendy was selected as a Regional Shull award winner. Wendy attended LTC as an "advisor delegate" in the early 1980's, becoming the first LTC delegate to serve as an Executive Director of the association. She celebrated her 25th year as a member of the LTC Staff in 2010. Lou has been active at the National level serving on the NASC National Advisory Council, including a term as adult co-chair in 2011. Like Walt Angilly before him, Lou has also served his fellow Executive Directors by taking a leadership role in NASSCED on their Executive Board since 2009, as Vice President in 2013 and 2014 then being elected twice as President in 2015 and 2016.
Together, Wendy and Lou are guiding the NJASC through an important transition. In 2006, advisors became able to obtain professional development credit for their time and involvement with NJASC conference activities, confirming the importance and professional stature of the student council advisor. In 2007, the annual Leadership Training Conference (LTC) succesfully changed venues for only the third time in its' over fifty-year history. They are also working to grow the NJASC, both in terms of the number of member schools as well as how active each becomes in their state Student Council association. Working together with the New Jersey State Board of Education and other organizations, they are expanding leadership opportunities and the reach of NJASC programs to students in all New Jersey school districts - urban, suburban, and rural.
During their tenure, the NJASC reconfirmed its incorporation and non-profit status, while embarking on its' first-ever sponsorship program. This important step will ensure that LTC and other NJASC programs can grow while remaining affordable for schools and student leaders throughout New Jersey. Through the internet, the NJASC has expanded communication channels through creation and use of a dynamic website. An advisors' e-mail distribution list has greatly increased the frequency and effectiveness of communication that includes monthly advisors' online newsletters, to keep them abreast of what is happening in their state association. An online registration system has greatly reduced paperwork and simplified the conference planning process for the NJASC Office and advisors alike. The NJASC website has quickly and effectively become the focal point for communication about and promotion of its' programs, affirming it as a vibrant organization dedicated to developing leaders for the 21st century.
Innovative Projects with Lasting Impact
WWII Bond Drive, Student Recognition, State Charity
Each year, the NJASC executive board adopts a project - a completely new idea or an improvement of existing services. Although there have been many, the 1943 project is likely the most unusual. A bond drive was organized by the (then) NJAHSC as a contribution to the war effort during World War II. The one week bond drive, carefully planned and executed, was a tremendous success. The amount was sufficient to buy a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, which was named "Spirit of New Jersey Youth" and is pictured below:
That was the only aircraft ever purchased by the students of New Jersey, and likely by the students of any state. The "Spirit of New Jersey Youth", however, has continued and grown throughout the years, and other projects have been equally innovative and lasting. Many years ago, the organization helped establish a "Teens for Safe Driving" campaign, fought for the establishment of a National Student Council Week, initiated and maintained a Student Rights Handbook and championed student councils on a national and state level.
The 1952 executive board adopted the idea of designating the week of the annual convention as Student Council Week to be observed by member schools throughout the state. The executive board obtained the cooperation of Governor Alfred E. Driscoll, and he issued a statement calling for state observance of Student Council Week. The NJAHSC took pride in the fact that this was the first such observance in the nation and has since been adopted by numerous other state student council organizations. State Student Council Week has become an annual event in New Jersey.
The NJASC (as the original NJAHSC) played a major role in constructively channeling student ideas during the student activist period of the late 1960s and early 1970s. During that time, the NJAHSC worked with its advisory committee to organize a series of meetings which resulted in a Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. This handbook not only served to give answers to student problems in New Jersey but also furnished a pattern for other states and other issues.
At the national level of student leadership and as the direct result of New Jersey's efforts, junior high school representatives were permitted to attend the annual conference of the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) for the first time in 1972. During the 1970s, New Jersey led the change of the National Association of Student Councils Delegate Assembly from a faculty to a true student assembly.
In 1976, the State Board of Education adopted two resolutions supporting student councils and the students of New Jersey. The New Jersey Standards of Excellence Program now honors outstanding student councils. The second resolution formalized student representation on the State Board of Education. New Jersey was the first state to have an officially and regularly designated student voice on the State Board of Education. Additionally, the NJASC's actions led many of New Jersey's own cities and towns to have student input to the board of education.
The NJASC has also recognized the important role of advisors and school administrators in the success of student leadership. Outstanding advisors are nominated by their school principals and student council presidents, and one person is selected as the Advisor of the Year. He or she is recognized at the NJASC Fall Business Meeting in October, where they are given a plaque and also have their registration fee paid for the NASC National Conference the following June. He or she also becomes a state nominee for the Warren E. Shull national Advisor of the Year award, which is selected by the NASC Advisory Council and presented at the NASC National Conference. Outstanding administrators are nominated by their student council presidents and advisors, and one person is selected as the Administrator of the Year. He or she is recognized at the NJASC Fall Business Meeting in October, where they are given a plaque and the opportunity to address all attendees.
Following the successful program of advisor and administrator recognition, the NJASC began the Student Leader of the Year program in 1992. This program honors an outstanding student leader at the Spring Awards Program at Great Adventure. Also in 1992, the $115,000 given to that year's State Charity (the Rainbow Foundation) brought the total amount of money donated to a state charity since 1979 to over $1 million dollars. In the years since, the total amount contributed by NJ students through the NJASC-sponsored State Charity program has grown to in excess of $2 million. Other charities selected for the one-year honor have included The Little Rock Foundation, Buddy Ball, Camp Fatima, Cherished Creations, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Other NJASC projects have included Community SMILE, an organized recognition of the innumerable hours of community service performed by New Jersey's middle and high school students.
Finally, the NJAHSC/NJASC's innovative projects with lasting impact have also been organizationally-based; typically, the organizationally-based projects have focused on communication. The Yearbook, containing a summary of the annual state convention, was first issued in 1954. The REVIEW, established early in the organization's history, has provided important student council news to the organization's membership. (The REVIEW was temporarily replaced by the Series Booklets in 1969. The Series Booklets were in-depth studies by the executive board on a major topic of the year.) The REVIEW returned due to popular demand, and has continued since 1972 as a means of providing information on school projects, student issues and leadership techniques. In 1973, the NJAHSC established the tradition of selecting an annual theme for each executive board. The selection of a theme sets the tone for the year and provides a focus for each gathering of New Jersey's student leaders for that year: at the Fall Business Meeting, Leadership Training Conference and the annual NJASC Convention.
LTC: Then and Now
Our Leadership Training Conference
The NJASC's annual Leadership Training Conference (LTC) is the longest running student leadership training program in the US. Dr. William Sterner, pictured at left, was instrumental in the development and curriculum of this conference and was a fixture at it for decades. In August 2005, LTC celebrated 50 years of continuous leadership training for New Jersey's students. In 2007, LTC moved into the month of July and into a new home at The College of New Jersey, bringing a 21st century environment to the state's student leadership experiences.
Back in 1955, steps were taken to initiate the first Leadership Training Conference. Sponsors attending the Rutgers Sponsors Workshop and students at the annual business meeting that November were enthusiastic. The NJAHSC executive board and the advisory committee voted approval, and a coordinating committee was appointed to make arrangements for a Leadership Training Conference for the following year.
The first NJASC Leadership Training Conference (LTC) was held from September 2-4, 1956 at Camp Wapalanne, Stokes State Forest in Branchville, New Jersey. About 130 student delegates representing 75 high schools and junior high schools returned to their schools with high praise for the experiences they enjoyed at camp. The twenty staff members included teachers and administrators of New Jersey schools. Former officers of the NJAHSC then in college and other college students served as junior counselors.
Both the advisor and student groups attending the 1960 NJAHSC annual convention voted favorably to organize an annual training program to meet the expanding demand of New Jersey's student leaders for leadership training.
Blairstown's Central Jersey YMCA Camp Ralph S. Mason, pictured at left, was selected as the new location for this annual program. Many of early junior leaders from the first LTC in 1956 continued through the 1960s and 1970s as part of the adult teaching staff. Camp Mason would serve as the home of LTC for the next twenty-five years. The delegates and staff from the 1960 NJASC Leadership Training Conference are pictured below, in a group photo taken on September 2, 1960.
Because of a need for modernized and expanded facilities in the mid-1980s, a new location was selected: Fairview Lake YMCA Camp in Stillwater, New Jersey. After more than 20 years at Fairview Lake, the NJASC needed to respond to increased opportunities for student leadership and the earlier dates of New Jersey's interscholastic athletic programs and practices. Following careful review and discussion, the NJASC decided to move the LTC program into July so that more student leaders would be able to participate. It was also decided to move the program to a college campus, so in July 2007 LTC moved to The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing. The delegates and staff from the second session of LTC 2007 are pictured below:
LTC's two conference sessions are held consecutively at the same facility with many of the same staff. The sessions enable student attendees to begin preparation for the coming school year. Although a coordinating committee for LTC had been established back during the 1956 start-up, it experienced little change until 1981. In that year, official bylaws were established, along with a process for membership selection and rotation on the coordinating committee. This change reflected the reality that many individuals had gone through the LTC program as delegates, then junior counselors and senior counselors; they remained as members of the LTC staff and continued to demonstrate leadership in a myriad of teaching and non-teaching professions.
LTC is the high point in the training of student leaders in New Jersey. Approximately 300 students attend each year, representing every county of the state and a minimum of approximately 100 different schools. LTC's educational content and approach have kept pace with trends (and even been in the vanguard of a few); today, LTC has eleven classes: Speaking with Ease, Effective Communication, Goals for Planning S.M.A.R.T., Meeting For Success, Elected to Lead Everyone, You Make The Call (Strategies for Success), Deal With I.T. (Conflict), Make Your Time Count, Communication Workshop (started in 1973 as Boundary Breaking), T.E.A.M. Time, and L.E.A.D. The LTC staff - about 75 in number each year, almost equally divided between junior and senior staff - continues to demonstrate an exceptional commitment to diversity in leadership models.
Approximately half of the senior counselors are secondary school teaching professionals, with the balance represented by individuals engaged in widely varying professions. This unique mixture includes successful professionals in broadcasting, law, insurance, music, theater, and medicine as well as a host of other fields - and is an essential component to the unparalled educational experience provided each year to the delegates of LTC. More than 60% of our senior counselors were delegates and/or junior counselors (JCs) at LTC during their high school years. As always, the Junior Counselors remain critical to the success of LTC. Evidence of the valuable role of the JC is that a high percentage of delegates from the previous year's LTC apply for one of the few coveted open spots as a JC; LTC accepts only a limited number of new JCs in a typical year.
Over the years there have been delegates from outside the Garden State who have joined us at LTC; some (Phil Stewart) have become staff members remaining with the program for many years. In 2013, the reach of LTC extended beyond the borders of New Jersey and even the United States as a delegation of 28 students and 3 advisors from Oxford International School of Panama City, Panama joined us. Their active participation in the first session of LTC marked the centerpiece of a nine day trip to the United States, which included touring Philadelphia and New York City. After an extremely positive and mutually rewarding social and educational experience, we (and they) look forward to a multi-year partnership that will reap benefits for the student leaders of New Jersey and Panama City.
Effective Meetings for NJ Student Leaders
Winter Convention, Spring Awards Program, Fall Business Meeting, NASC National Conference
The NJASC annual convention is one of the largest student council conventions in the world. Every January, nearly two thousand student leaders from middle and high school student councils throughout the state meet to elect their state-wide representatives to the NJASC Executive Board and the New Jersey State Board of Education. In addition, students attend a variety of student-led workshops on such topics as planning successful charity events and creative ways to boost school spirit. Awards are given for the Top Ten Student Council Projects, Honor School Student Councils that meet defined criteria, as well as the High School and Middle School Student Leaders of the Year.
The annual convention has been a part of the organization's schedule from its earliest years. For approximately forty years, the convention was held in New Brunswick at Rutgers, The State University. As early as 1950, attendance was estimated to exceed 2,200 students. Beginning in the late 1960s, attempts were made to control the size of the convention. The organization, then the NJAHSC, initiated advance registration, accompanied by a small fee for delegates; later it became necessary to use quotas for each school, apportioned according to the school population. This system ended in the 1980s. Because of scheduling requirements, the location was moved to The College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College) more than twenty years ago. The day-long convention has always enabled students to share ideas, discuss major issues and reenergize for the second-half of the academic year. A keynote speaker, frequently a nationally-known speaker and always selected by the NJASC executive board, addresses the convention attendees on a subject relevant to leadership and student council.
During the school year, the NJASC sponsors both a Fall Business Meeting (October) and Spring Awards Program (May). During these meetings, students gather to interact with one another, exchange ideas, and expand opportunities for their individual school student organizations. At the Fall Business Meeting, a guest speaker addresses the attendees and speaks on a subject of interest within New Jersey. The state Administrator and Advisor of the Year award winners, selected by the State Officers at their September meeting, are also recognized. Additionally, students offer and attend workshops relating to student council, projects, leadership and emerging issues. The Spring Awards Program began in 1978 at Great Adventure. Now an annual event, Great Adventure regularly gathers more than 4,000 student leaders for a day of recognition, awards and fun toward the end of successful school year. Most significantly, the presentation check to that year's NJASC state charity is awarded at Great Adventure.
Finally, the NJASC annually participates in the annual conference of the National Association of Student Councils. The NJASC executive board is joined by student representatives from NJASC member schools to form a delegation of approximately 30-40 students and advisors. The delegation attends the four day conference as well as a pre and post-trip experience to bond as a group. The NASC National Conference is held at a different location each year, and students from New Jersey throughout the United States participate in seminars, meetings, panels, and issues workshops as they interact with fellow student leaders from across the United States, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. The NASC conference provides an invaluable opportunity for New Jersey student leaders to share and obtain information and new ideas, returning each year with fresh enthusiasm for student council, and sharing information with other member schools throughout the year.
Professional Development For Those Who Train Our Future Leaders
Advisor training has long been important to the state student council. Today, advisors are able to receive professional development credit for their participation in NJASC activities.
Starting in 1952, the Rutgers Graduate School of Education held a one day advisors training session in an effort to provide direction and assistance to student council advisors. This expanded to include advisors weekends, one day workshops and meetings at the annual convention. Dr. William S. Sterner founded this program, and also founded the NJASC Leadership Training Conference.
As early as 1955, a study of working conditions for student council advisors was based on a survey of secondary school principals in New Jersey high schools. Mrs. Freda Marden, the NJAHSC's first executive secretary, wrote two articles describing the results, and these articles were published in the Bulletin of the National Association of Secondary School Principals and in School Activities, in May and February of the same year. This study helped improve the status of student council advisors and their working conditions. At the request of a number of advisors, a report was presented at the March 1957 meeting of the New Jersey Secondary School Principals Association. This report was based on a follow-up survey prepared by Mr. Don Hitchner of East Orange High School.
In 1986, the NJASC developed a more formal advisors program. Almost sixty advisors gathered for a weekend outside Cherry Hill. Advisors had the opportunity to interact with other advisors and listen to featured speakers offer programs and suggestions for modernization of today's active student councils. That program was attended by many of the advisors still active in middle and high schools throughout the state. Additionally, the annual LTC program encourages student council advisors to attend for a day and to directly participate in the classes and LTC experience.
On-going efforts have been made by the NJASC to improve the role and training of advisors. Advisor training has consisted of advisors' weekends, one day workshops, meetings at the annual convention and training sessions during the student business meeting as needed. All of these programs now are eligible for professional development credit, sanctioned by the State of New Jersey, toward the 100 hour requirement to maintain teacher certification. Because of the frequent changes that occur in council advisory responsibilities, advisor training continues to assume a high priority in NJASC activities.