For many years, my father was a dedicated teacher and student council adviser. His commitment to education deeply shaped my own perspective. Witnessing the transformative impact of student council through his eyes, I learned early on how this organization is not just an extracurricular activity but a pivotal platform for cultivating school culture and nurturing the next generation of leaders. This personal connection to student council fuels my passion in guiding our efforts to empower and honor the vibrant spirit of student leadership.

In this issue of Principal Leadership, I’m excited to share some big changes we have planned for our student council program, which has been known as NatStuCo for the last few years. But first, some history.

When NASSP became the parent organization of the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) in 1943, the program blossomed. A U.S. president, U.S. Olympians, and several celebrities spoke at its conferences, and senators wrote articles for association magazines. Councils numbered in the thousands.

In 2015, NASC rebranded as NatStuCo. But in 2021, when I became NASSP CEO, one of the first things I heard from members was how much they missed the original name and what it stood for. They also shared their ideas for returning the program to its former glory, and I’m proud to say that at NASSP, we listened.

The NASSP/NASC leadership team at the Vision Conference at Collinsville High School in Collinsville, IL, in July 2023.

Last month, NatStuCo officially became NASC, and we are launching two new programs along with it. The first is a scholarship for students who participate in student council. NASSP will award a total of $100,000 to 80 students who participate in the program at NASC member schools. NASSP is proud to celebrate and honor those students who have devoted so much time and effort to leading their school communities. Applications for the scholarship open in fall 2024, and we are eager to read them and grant awards to deserving students.

The second program is the National Student Council. This body will consist of students from NASC member schools who will be elected and selected to serve on it. Council members will be actively involved in shaping NASSP’s student leadership conference. They’ll join school leaders for legislative discussions on Capitol Hill, providing the student perspective to policymakers. They will also represent their peers’ voices and articulate student viewpoints on current education issues to the media. Applications for the council open in March. For more information about the scholarship and the council, visit the newly redesigned NASC website.

As the leading voice of middle and high school principals and assistant principals, NASSP is committed to cultivating the next generation of courageous leaders: our students. Strengthening our student council program is an essential part of our association’s mission: to reimagine and rebuild an education system that meets every student’s needs by providing equitable access and opportunity. As a school leader, you know that young people who participate in student council are some of the most driven, committed, and active students in our schools. Many go on to become mayors, state senators, state representatives, federal office holders, and, of course, educators. We must invest in these students today, so they are prepared to lead us tomorrow.

If your school does not already participate in NASC, I encourage you to bring it to your school. Your students deserve a chance to hone their leadership skills through this rewarding program.

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Ronn K. Nozoe is the CEO of NASSP. Previously, he served as associate executive director and interim executive director of ASCD. A former deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs at the U.S. Department of Education, he also served as deputy state superintendent in his home state of Hawaii, where he began his career as a teacher, vice principal, and principal.