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Burns named Richard Cansler Administrator of the Year

Sun Valley High School principal Janice Burns, seated at left, has been chosen as the NCASC Richard Cansler Administrator of the Year for her work and support of her school's student council. She is pictured with Hannah Hoang, 16, SVHS sophomore class president, (standing), and Courtney Crego, 17, SVHS's senior class president.

It's not by accident that Sun Valley High School's student council has made a name for itself throughout the southeastern United States. It comes from hard work and dedication, not only on the part of its student, but the support of the school's principal as well.

The most recent accolade for SVHS Student Council [a recipient of the National Gold Council of Excellence award and a North Carolina Association of Student Councils (NCASC) Honor Council] is the recognition of their principal, Janice Burns, who has been selected by the NCASC's Executive Board Committee as the NCASC Richard Cansler Administrator of the Year.

Burns was chosen for her dedication and support of the school's student council. "I was elated," she said. "This recognition is really more about the students. They put a lot into the organization. They do a lot for the school and the community. I'm happy to be a part of it. They allow me to be part of it. They always make me feel welcome. They even copy me on their emails. I couldn't ask for a better group of students."

The school's student council advisor Josh Wall nominated Burns for the award. "Ms. Burns always has a positive outlook, and encourages our faculty and staff to strive for excellence, to go the extra mile, and to think outside the box in attempting to reach all students. Her eternal optimism, attention to detail, the ability to give praise, the ability to have us take a step back and take a deep breath before we proceed, has taught the advisor and the student council members invaluable life lessons."

The council's most recent accomplishment was to win the bid to host the Southern Association of Student Council (SASC) conference, which had not been held in North Carolina for more than 30 years. Student councils traveled from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia to attend the three-day conference aimed at helping to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

The individual SVHS's student council members are also making a name for themselves. Hannah Hoang, 16, SVHS sophomore class president, was recently elected as the president-elect for NCASC. She will become the NCASC president in 2012.

"When I started student council my freshman year I didn't have a lot of confidence," Hoang said. "I would never speak my opinions because I was always afraid to say anything. But student council built up my confidence. My freshman year, I would never have seen myself running for the NCASC president in North Carolina, but here I am. I like that about student council. It makes you feel special. It builds up your leadership skills, and it's just fun."

Courtney Crego, 17, SVHS's senior class president, has a similar testament about her experience on the school's student council. "I always joked that I came to high school a loner and now I'm senior class president," she said smiling. "That's a huge jump. The leadership skills I've gained through being on student council and through serving as an officer will help me in college and in life after college."

The student organization isn't just focused on the big picture. They are also looking in their own back yard. The organization is credited with building bridges between students at SVHS, which has a very diverse population.

A perfect example of this is the Black-Out Dance, which targets those students who don't normally get involved in school dances or athletic events. One example is a type of student who doesn't usually get involved at school activities, Burns said, is the "Goth culture." This is typically a non-violent, pacifistic student who dresses in black clothing, and wears light-colored makeup and unusual hairstyles.

"We're all dancing together," Hoang said. "We're all doing the same thing. It builds bridges because they feel connected."

"The dance was an awesome idea to capture a group of students who may not feel connected to the school," Burns said. "Now they feel connected to the school. The student council is always looking for more things to do to help others, even when their plate is already full."

All proceeds from the Black-Out Dance, attended this year by about 400 students, go to benefit Victory Junction; just one of the many community service projects taken on by the SVHS Student Council.

Burns said she is honored to receive the NCASC award, but gives credit to her student council members for being second to none. "This is one of the most active student councils that a school could have," she said. "The things they do are vital to the community and vital to the nourishment of the school."

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Apr 15, 2011 by Don Mace

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