Students from the South Fayette High School Student Government organization traveled to Altoona, PA, on Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23, 2023, for the annual Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils (PASC) State Leadership Conference, and returned with an impressive array of awards.
The Student Government organization as a whole received the PASC Distinguished Keystone Council Award, which is the highest award PASC bestows on a student council. The award takes into account leadership, organizational functions, and events/activities throughout the year for each nominated council.
Additionally, students Ava Cardone, Carly Garrubba, Tessa Schwarzmiller, Alycia Stier, and Paige Westbrook were named PASC Distinguished Student Leaders. The first students from South Fayette to receive this honor, it was especially notable that a total of ten students were recognized at this year's convention and five were from South Fayette -- the other five honorees each represented a different school. The award acknowledges PASC student members who have proven themselves to be truly remarkable and presents nominees with the challenge and opportunity to grow and improve through self-evaluation. As seniors, Westbrook and Stier currently serve as the student body president and vice president, respectively, at South Fayette, and Garrubba, a junior, is the recording secretary of the student body. Schwarzmiller also serves on the PASC State Executive Board as the Region B Representative, working with schools in Allegheny, Greene, and Washington Counties.
At the convention, students from schools across the state gather to participate in workshops, listen to keynote speakers, network, and participate in round table discussions. In a discussion with this year’s five Distinguished Student Leaders, they all agreed that the event was “so fun” and particularly enjoyed interacting with peers who appreciate all that goes into the events and activities that are organized and hosted by each school’s student council/government.
Westbrook pointed out, “We were really looking to meet people from all across the state with the same interests.” The group noted that they especially enjoyed meeting with students from other schools who host Mini-THONs and sharing ideas.
The ability to exchange information was a huge bonus for the participating students. “Different areas respond in different ways to common problems,” said Cardone.
“We talk about things that you wouldn’t think would work in your school or something you never even thought of and see how these ideas can really be successful,” added Stier.
In addition to being guests at the convention, several South Fayette students were selected to present workshops including juniors Amelya Pinami and Carly Garrubba who presented "Helping Councils Grow," juniors Tessa Schwarzmiller and Ava Cardone on the topic "We're all in Mental Health Together!", and senior Alekhya Buragadda who presented "Unleashing Your Inner Leader."