Student congress: the force behind WHHS


Kimaya Mundhe

From left to right: SENIORS Mariah Couch, Melanie Mitchell, Simone Sears and Elsie Manolis wrap up their monthly executive board meeting. These meetings include all the class councils representing each grad and the executive board. “Last year the student body became really divided, the world became divided, so this year I just hope to bring everyone together and remind us how awesome and fun and diverse our student body is,” Mitchell said.

Student congress is the force behind the majority of large school events at WHHS. It is most visibly seen through their plans for Homecoming, Adopt-a-Family, pep rallies, club inductions and charity drives.

As described on WHHS’ website, student congress is the “sole representative, democratic, deliberative student organization. It is the only organization chartered by the school.” 

Student congress is composed of an executive board and six class councils, one for each grade level. Class councils consist of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and representatives. 

“I think something very cool about student congress this year is every single class president is a person of color, and I feel like that’s really representative of student congress and Walnut Hills as a whole. We’re a diverse body and our leadership shows that as well,” SENIOR class president Kylie Bridgeman said. 

The executive board is made up of four SENIORS each year who are elected to lead the student body and create a bridge between the administration and students. 

This year the board has a set of diverse students and backgrounds. SENIORS Melanie Mitchell, student body president, Mariah Couch, Elsie Manolis and Simone Sears, are the four executive board members.

“I decided for my SENIOR year I wanted to represent the entire student body,” Mitchell said. “It’s also given me the opportunity to be a mentor for other officers.”

Each member has their own identity and has an eclectic resume to show for their accomplishments. Among the four of them is a business owner, national vaccine advocate, club president and swimmer. 

“I felt like I could make a difference for my student body with the administration just [by] planning things,” Couch said. “Being the lead of something inspires me.”

Coming off of a year of remote learning has been challenging, “It was definitely hard to find morale in the students,” Manolis said. 

Mitchell explained how student congress had to shift perspectives from ‘How can we have the biggest turnout?’ to ‘How can we have the safest turnout?’. 

“Last year the student body became really divided, the world became divided, so this year I just hope to bring everyone together and remind us how awesome and fun and diverse our student body is,” Mitchell said.

The goal of student congress this year is to bring back a lot of the events students missed out on due to the pandemic and to make sure everyone’s voices are heard while doing so. “I want to do as much as I can to represent the student body and help our class,” Sears said. 

While the executive board represents the student body as a whole, each class council plays a vital role in coming up with and planning grade-specific events. 

“I really want to focus on the community service aspect of student congress a lot more this year and giving back to our community,” SENIOR class treasurer Julia Berman said. 

Class presidents meet with their councils and class advisors weekly to plan for and discuss these events.

During the beginning of each school year, student congress meets to induct new clubs into WHHS. This year clubs have the option to be independent clubs, clubs that don’t require funding. (Kimaya Mundhe)

Berman, along with the class of 2023 class president, Louis Ke, ‘23 are the two student representatives for the Local School Decision Making Committee (LSDMC). The LSDMC consists of parent and student representatives, alumni, teachers and administrators who meet monthly to discuss various issues including new additions to the building and racial inequity. 

“I basically represent the student voice [on the LSDMC],” Berman said. Although she can find it intimidating to be in a meeting primarily consisting of adults, “It is very clear that they’re listening [to what we have to say].”  

Ke agrees, “Student congress meetings are a little bit more informal so I feel like [LSDMC meetings] are more mature and more formal.”

The Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) is another committee that consists of administrators, community members, and two student representatives. They make decisions about the curriculum at WHHS and are currently focusing on adjusting the honors program. 

SENIOR class president, Kylie Bridgeman and Junior class treasurer, Sarthak (Sunny) Dighe’ 23 are the two student representatives for the ILT. 

“I think that [being an ILT representative] amplified my confidence as a student and my ability to speak on things that otherwise I wouldn’t have the opportunity to,” Bridgeman said. “I felt invited to speak in a lot of the conversations we had… they’re very supportive of hearing for myself and the other student reps.” 

As a whole, student congress hopes to make an impact on not only WHHS but also on the community. They hope to make this year a memorable one for everyone, especially SENIORS, despite working within COVID-19 restrictions. “I hope we are all able to come back as a whole Walnut Hills family,” Sears said.

“Student congress is truly one of the best things I’ve done at Walnut and I’m so happy I’ve been a part of it for my entire high school career,” Mitchell said.