Leading the Way

“It’s been my dream to run for All-School Council since I was in seventh grade,” says All-School President Lili B.‘18. “I wanted to be part of the change that could be made at Marlborough.”


“It’s been my dream to run for All-School Council since I was in seventh grade,” says All-School President Lili B.‘18. “I wanted to be part of the change that could be made at Marlborough.”

At Marlborough, student government is a large organization with 10% of students actively participating on either their Grade-Level Council or the All-School Council. While serving, each member is also part of a committee that discusses Marlborough's progress on a specific subject, such as Communications or Community Outreach.

Many students decide to join Council to improve their leadership skills. For Lili, that means knowing how to use her voice, powerfully.

“It’s being willing to share your opinions without being afraid someone is going to shoot them down, and if they do shoot them down, being able to work that out,” says Lili. “It took me a really long time to be able to openly express my thoughts and ideas on whatever discussion we’re having. Sometimes it’s scary, but I’ve learned that it’s really important to say how you’re feeling, because most of those thoughts will be validated.”

For Sarah L. ’18, Marlborough’s All-School Communications Representative, leadership is also rooted in collaboration and making sure all voices are heard. And for Student Council members, who are responsible for serving as a voice between the student body and the school’s administration, this can be a large task, as they must consider a wide range of aspects of student life, from traditions to stress levels. 

“It’s about being able to work with a diverse group of people and being able to bring everyone together,” says Sarah.


COMMUNICATING CONFIDENTLY

All-School Council members each head a committee comprised of Grade-Level Council members, and are responsible for all the duties that come with that position, including collaborating, running a meeting effectively, managing group dynamics, and having an action plan with follow-through.

“It’s up to that student to come up with the agenda, to send out the reminder email, to make sure voices are heard,” explains Mrs. Rosi Mitchell, Dean of Student Life. “With this experiential approach, students learn leadership skills by doing, by putting in the work.” 

Ellie P. ’18 wanted to participate in student government specifically to help build her confidence but didn’t know exactly what position she wanted to fill. After watching Assembly Coordinators from previous years, she decided that role would be the best opportunity to practice her public speaking skills.

All-School Council Athletics Rep Kelsey W. ’18 has participated in her Grade-Level Councils in the past and has also served as team captain for several sports. She feels this leadership experience has boosted her confidence.

“It’s not always easy to corral a group to do something,” says Kelsey. “With adults and other girls around your age, the power dynamic is sometimes challenging. But I’ve become a lot more confident coordinating with adults. I send so many emails a day because of Council, and I really do think that that has helped me learn things like email etiquette.”


REFLECT AND REVISE

For Council, an important leadership skill is the ability to really focus in on what is most valuable for the student body. Lili learned this lesson the hard way during her junior year planning semiformal.

“I was dedicated to getting the perfect location, but we just didn’t have the funds to secure our dream venue. My advisor told me I just had to let it go, but it was hard,” explains Lili. “Learning through those moments helped me this year in planning events and the importance of realizing what your grade actually needs instead of what you want the grade to need.” 

Lili also put this experience to use on All-School Council this year as they began to plan Pumpkin Day, Marlborough’s Halloween celebration. All-School council looked at the event critically, particularly at the junior vs. senior dance battle that had followed the costume parade in past years. During their conversation, questions kept popping up: Is this promoting the idea of collegiality and sisterhood? Do seniors want to spend their time preparing a dance when many college applications are due the next day? Is a competition exclusively between these two classes necessary when we also have grade-level competitions during spirit week? 

In the end, this year’s council decided that the dance battle no longer served students in the way it did for previous classes, so it was eliminated. The costume parade stood on its own, and students appreciated the change.


FAILING FORWARD

Running for a leadership position on student government can be intimidating. But Lili encourages nervous students to try it anyway. At the beginning of this year, she spoke to the seventh-grade class when their election process started, emphasizing the value of running, even if you don’t win. This was the path Lili took herself. She ran for President in seventh grade and lost. She acknowledges that it was disappointing in the moment, but it gave her the opportunity to learn.

“Losing is really scary, but it will better you,” she says. “I had bad speeches that didn’t win. I promised crazy things! But through the years I learned how to be a little more realistic and how to speak to student’s needs and interests.”

Because of this experience, Lili has now served on councils for three years, first as President in ninth grade, then as Secretary in eleventh grade, and now as All-School President.


LEADING THEIR WAY

Interest in student council varies each year, but in general, the number of students vying for council positions has decreased. Regina Rosi Mitchell, Dean of Student Life, finds that fact incredibly encouraging.

“Student government isn’t for everyone. It’s just one avenue towards leadership,” she explains. “It’s not just a select six council members who are the leaders. You can lead in robotics. You can lead as a participant in the arts. The best leaders are also followers at times, knowing when to step in and when to take a back seat.”

One area where Marlborough has seen student interest grow has been in clubs and affinity groups. These student-led groups offer extracurricular opportunities for students to expand on their learning outside the classroom.

“Students define a club’s mission,” explains Pamela Wright, Community Outreach Program Head. “While faculty advisors serve as a resource for club leaders, it’s exciting to watch a girl take charge of her club's mission and vision.”
 


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