Looking at how AHS Leadership deals with criticism
From the colorful decorations on lockers to the eye-catching posters found throughout the halls, Leadership’s efforts at improving our school can be seen in almost every aspect of American High School’s culture. Leadership is generally very well-received and given much credit for making our high school experiences enjoyable and memorable, but what happens when well-intentioned events upset or fail to impress students? How does Leadership approach the balancing act between their large responsibility and ensuring the happiness of the majority of the student body, especially when criticism comes into the picture?
Being in Leadership is an extensive task that requires significant levels of responsibility. The dedication and energy that Leadership students devote to their activities is reflected in their willingness to inconvenience themselves in order to make their peers’ high school experiences as enjoyable as possible.
“Being a good leader takes sacrifice,” explained ASB President Ashley Liu (12). “Instead of going home or hanging out after school on a Friday, Leadership is decorating the campus for Winter Week, and instead of sleeping in on the late-start Monday back from Thanksgiving break, Leadership is at school at seven A.M. setting up for Love Eagles Week festivities.”
Unfortunately, with the great responsibility they hold and far-reaching impact that they have on the school as a whole, backlash is often inevitable for Leadership students.
“There will always be criticisms in everything we do…not everyone is going to like an event because we are all so different,” explained ASB Vice President Antara Baruah (12). She sees a silver lining, however: “At the same time, these criticisms also do help us to improve because then we know how to cater to the people that didn’t like [a previous event].”
One specific matter that Leadership has received feedback on are the lunch activities that they coordinate. This criticism has helped them to become aware of how to adjust their events in order to allow more students to enjoy them.
“In the past, we have been criticized for catering events to only the same people and [not focusing] on events that affect everybody,” said Mingyu Wu (11). “Our lunch activities mostly take place in the rotunda, and yes, people have the option to come to the rotunda to partake in activities, but in a way, it kind of excludes the rest of the school, so we are working on a possible solution around that.”
Baruah does not necessarily view criticism as a negative entity, believing that it is actually a very important part of helping Leadership expand its reach to positively affect even more people.
“[The] best thing to do with criticism is to use [it] to improve on the next thing we are planning. There can never be a perfect event, and people will find something to not like, so we just have to use them to see what we can do better,” she explained. “Criticism is a necessary aspect to [improvement], and without it, we wouldn’t be going above and beyond every year.”
In some cases, criticism stems from dissatisfaction with certain aspects that Leadership is not able to control. With this in mind, planning events is not always as easy as it may seem.
“There will be things that we cannot control like rules that we have to follow, or that we don’t have enough money,” said Baruah. “[In addition], certain obstacles happen and we just have to do the best of our abilities.”
In the face of such challenges, Leadership must still push forward in order to find the best solution and make the end result as successful as possible. This process can often be challenging and time-consuming, and Baruah hopes that the student body can be mindful of the efforts that Leadership students have contributed in order to try to make an event as enjoyable as possible.
“We go home with homework and tired from extracurriculars and still need to have the energy to be able to plan events or go buy materials late at night just to show up extra early to school in order to set up for something,” she said. “We sacrifice a lot of time and dedicate much of our effort to help other students have a good high school [experience], so I just want people to know that Leadership does a lot of things behind the scenes even when we don’t get recognition.”
Meanwhile, Wu feels that feedback from the student body should always be welcomed. “We are never offended by criticism; we appreciate people who speak up and voice their opinions,” he said. “The purpose of leadership is to serve the student body, so the best way for us to achieve that goal is to hear ideas, comments, concerns, and complaints.”
In the larger picture, although Leadership students occasionally face negative feedback, they view making contributions to the school through Leadership as a very rewarding and passion-driven experience.
“Leadership cares for other students so much that we find ourselves prioritizing Leadership over other responsibilities—not because we’re required to, but because we care and are driven to leave American better than we found it,” said Liu. “The motive behind everything we do is to serve the student body. We focus on fostering an environment that is accepting and unifying.”
Caption: Centered in SAC, or the Student Activity Center, Leadership students dedicate their time every day to ensuring that the entire school is able to enjoy and make the most out of their high school experiences. “A lot of planning and handwork go
es into our events, so when we finally see them come together and the happiness in people’s faces, [it] is the most rewarding part,” said Baruah.