By Sondra Barr

Photo courtesy of Arizona Charter Academy

In the halls of Arizona Charter Academy (ACA) in Surprise, a new wave of leadership is taking root. This school year marks the inaugural formation of the ACA Student Council, a platform where young minds are nurtured to lead, mentor, guide, and serve. Spearheaded by teacher Jean Jones and embodied by a dynamic group of elected student officers, the council has quickly become a force for student-driven change and empowerment.

A Vision Comes to Life

Jean, inspired by the leadership potential she saw in her students, initiated the student council at ACA. “We have so many kids who are leadership minded,” she shares, highlighting the absence of such a platform in the past and her motivation to fill that gap. The response was overwhelming, with over 90 students from fifth to eighth grade joining the council.

Electing a New Era of Leaders

The student council is led by a dedicated team of officers, including President Anthony Bradford, an eighth grader with a vision for a more inclusive and environmentally conscious school community. Bradford, along with Vice President Emma Tran, Treasurer Christian Ponce, Secretary Adelynn Montenegro, Media Director Charles Hernandez, Social Media Manager Nathaniel Thompson, and Historians Lilianna Gomez, Camilla Maldonado, and Junior Historian Jazmine Valenzuela, were elected in a campaign that mirrored real-life electoral processes, complete with campaign rallies and the strategic use of promotional items like personalized pencils.

Learning and Growing Through Leadership

The formation of the ACA Student Council has been a learning curve for both the students and the faculty. From organizing committees to managing finances and enhancing communication, each member has encountered challenges that have spurred personal and collective growth. Anthony’s initiative to lead a civic action project focusing on the school’s environment exemplifies the council’s commitment to tangible improvements.

Adelynn Montenegro, the council’s secretary, reflects on her journey, emphasizing the role of leadership in personal development. “I just really try to work on skills to help me be a better person.”

Accomplishments and Aspirations

In its inaugural year, the ACA Student Council has already made significant strides, from successfully organizing a sock drive for the homeless, which collected over 807 pairs of socks, to participating in civic engagements like reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at both the Surprise and El Mirage city council meetings. These actions not only contribute to the community but also offer students a firsthand look at civic leadership.

The council’s future is bright, with plans to extend their influence beyond the school grounds into the wider community. Jean envisions a strong leadership presence at local parades and events in years to come, further solidifying the role of the ACA Student Council in fostering a generation of proactive, community-minded leaders.

For students across ACA and beyond, the council’s message is clear: leadership is not just about holding a position, but about making a difference. As the council continues to grow and evolve, it promises not only to shape the leaders of tomorrow but to transform the community today.