Shining a light on student council


From left to right: Vivian Voqui, Oscar Moreno, Mikayla Sullenger, Jorge Sanchez Bautista, Hadley Emerson, Lucy Kniser, Tyler Brill, Stella Jackson

The McDaniel Student Council consists of representatives from each grade level, with the senior representatives being class presidents. Beyond these basic facts, however, little is discussed about the student council after the April elections, and many questions someone might have about them usually remain unanswered throughout the year: Who are our representatives? Why did they run? What are they doing together on the Student Council? What are their future plans and goals? 

All current members of the student council were interviewed to give those they serve a better sense of who they are and what they do. 


Freshman representatives: Mikayla Sullenger (they/them) and Jorge Sanchez Bautista (he/him)


Freshman representative elections are different from those for the other members. For one, candidates don’t run together, but rather separately, with two winning the election to become the representatives. Thus, Mikayla Sullenger and Jorge Sanchez Bautista ran apart, and for slightly different reasons.  

“I wanted our school to be very open to people’s opinions and what people want in a school,” Sullenger said.

Sanchez Bautista heard about the council in middle school and was interested in running, partially due to his love of government and politics.

“My dream job is to run for Congress,” Sanchez Bautista said.

Another difference is that freshman representative elections don’t happen the year before, meaning they joined the council after the other members had already been elected. They said that this late start hasn’t affected them much, however.

Although elected separately, they soon joined forces on the council, working to hear from those they represent. They put out a survey to the freshmen, asking what problem they should address; they put on a freshman committee, where their constituents could talk directly to them; and their constituents then got back to them.

One of the main issues raised was a lack of information regarding clubs, such as what they were about and which ones needed new members. Sullenger and Sanchez Bautista responded by contacting club advisors to work on spreading the word. 

However, Sullenger has a high-minded idea of what they hope to accomplish while on student council.

“[I want to accomplish] making school a safe space for everyone,” Sullenger said. “I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable at school. […] I want them to feel heard, I want them to feel like their opinion matters about certain things that we do, such as events and clubs.”

When asked the one thing they’d like to tell the readers of the article, Sullenger had their response.

“We can’t do much for you if we’re not aware of it,” Sullenger said. “The more we’re aware of issues, the better we’ll be able to fix them.”


Note: Between the date of the interview and publication, Jorge Sanchez Bautista resigned from the Student Council. 


Sophomore representatives: Hadley Emerson (she/her)  and Lucy Kniser (she/her)

Hadley Emerson and Lucy Kniser ran together, and they explained that they ran to improve the school community and make sure everyone felt safe and welcome.

“We wanted to be able to see an impact at our school that we directly impacted,” Emerson said.

To get to know what issues the sophomores cared about, they pushed out a survey to get direct feedback from their grade and discover the important issues they cared about.

The survey also indirectly gave them a sense of how little the student council is known about.

“In my class, when the teacher presented the survey for the sophomores, people were like, ‘I didn’t know we had student council,’” Emerson said.

Kniser said that the same thing happened to her.

When they got the results of the survey back, they unfortunately discovered that many of the problems the sophomores raised, such as the length of lunch or the existence of advisory, were simply out of the council’s purview. One issue they did take up is bullying, which they plan to start advocating against.

“I think people want more events,” Kniser said, when describing what they hope to accomplish on the council.

Kniser believes the council works well together and is made up of good people.

“I think we have a group of people who really care about school,” Kniser said.

Emerson, however, noted that one thing isn’t the best about the council.

“I think we have less power than we thought we would,” Emerson said. “Especially the things people want to see changed are the things we can’t do anything about.”

When asked the one thing they’d like to tell the readers of the article, Kniser kept it simple. 

“Always reach out,” Kniser said.

Emerson expanded on Kniser’s concise statement.

“We don’t want other people in our whole class and our whole school to feel like they don’t have any power because they weren’t elected,” Emerson said.


Junior representatives: Tyler Brill (she/her) and Stella Jackson (she/her)


Tyler Brill and Stella Jackson are the only re-elected members of the student council, having served as sophomore representatives last year during online school. When they ran again, they ran primarily on the issue of student health.

It was, in fact, that online environment that made them feel they didn’t do as much as they could.

“As much as we did in sophomore year, it wasn’t in school,” Brill said. “We didn’t have as much of an impact as we would have.”

Brill and Jackson have connected with their class in numerous ways. They sent out a survey to find the issues juniors care about, as well as made it clear that anyone with concerns could email Brill. People have even come up to Brill directly in the hallway to give their input.

“If you see me in the hallways, you can come up to me and tell me your concerns,” Brill said. 

Among the issues heard were concerns about bullying and harassment, and worries of teachers not understanding how behind students are after online learning. Brill and Jackson addressed the latter by talking to vice principals Keylah Boyer and Keyla Santiago Rodriguez about attending a staff meeting to raise their concerns. Boyer and Santiago Rodriquez ended up taking it to the staff meeting themselves. Brill and Jackson said they will now move on to address bullying.

Both of them have a concern for the well-being of students, reflected in their goals for what to accomplish on the council.

“[I want to make] a more equitable and safe space for students in the school to make them feel more welcome,” Jackson said.

“[I want to make] everybody’s daily school lives a little bit smoother,” Brill said.

However, they said they are addressing the issues the juniors specifically told them to as their number one priority.

 “Those are first and foremost,” Brill said.

They talked about how everyone is friendly in the student council and how everyone helps each other out, but they noted that outreach is difficult.

When asked the one thing they’d like to tell the readers of the article, Jackson echoed sentiments they had made before.

“You can always reach out to us, come to us in the hallways,” Jackson said. “We can’t do anything if you don’t reach out.”

Brill followed up with a promise to their class.

“Just remember that we are here to help you guys, and we will do so to the best of our abilities that we are given as students and as junior representatives,” Brill said.


Senior representatives and class presidents: Vivian Voqui (she/her) and Oscar Moreno (he/him)


Vivian Voqui and Oscar Moreno were primarily motivated to run due to the pandemic. They felt school spirit had been dampened by the pandemic, and they wanted to help improve it. Additionally, they felt their collectively diverse backgrounds (Voqui from the Asian community, Moreno from the Latino community) would allow them to reach out to those who they say haven’t been reached out to much. 

Voqui and Moreno have known each other since their freshman year, and they say they’ve always had the idea to run. Voqui brought up the topic to Moreno when elections started to arrive.

“She hit me up and was like, ‘Do you wanna be presidents?’, and I was like ‘Okay, let’s do it,’” Moreno said. “Definitely she’s been the motivation to do it, but our friendship has been the glue to hold it together.”

Moreno reports that seniors often come up to ask when certain events are happening, and Moreno advises that the pandemic makes everything more difficult.

“There has to be an understanding that we’re still in a pandemic, so it’s kinda hard to make everything happen,” Moreno said.

Voqui concurred, pointing out the truth of being class president during a pandemic.

“I hate using that excuse [the pandemic], but it really is the reality of it,” Voqui said. “We really can’t do a pep assembly because of the pandemic.”

When discussing their accomplishments so far, Voqui and Moreno bring up the pep assembly held earlier in the year, which they dubbed a success.

“We were able to find a way to hold a pep assembly with the whole school while being able to sustain all the COVID rules,” Moreno said.

They also discussed the virtual pep assembly themed around Family Feud that they were planning, which has now occurred, as well as their planned prom, which Moreno claimed was a 90 percent guarantee to occur. Their planned prom is quite ambitious.

“We’re hoping to establish a ‘normal’ prom,” Voqui said.

That means no masks and no social distancing. A bold plan, but Moreno admits that it is far from certain to happen.

“We obviously have backup plans, but our goal is to get to the most normal one,” Moreno said.

Voqui and Moreno feel they have done a good job connecting to those they represent, and that they haven’t taken their positions as presidents lightly.

“You can be president, and you can have that title,” Voqui said, “but it really just comes down to whether or not you’re really involved in the school, and I feel like we’re both very involved.”  

Voqui and Moreno also believe the student council as a whole is doing well.

“I think we all work very well together,” Voqui said. “We’ve created a relationship outside of just the student council.”

Voqui and Moreno worry that the student body feels they are not putting in enough effort, and they want to reassure everyone that they are.

“Really, behind the scenes, we’re putting in as much effort as we can,” Voqui said.

They specifically applauded the hard work of principal Adam Skyles and Sydney Mulkey, advisor to the Student Council, as well as pointing out how many other people are working hard behind the scenes.

Despite the pandemic and the slight PR issues, they believe they have done well as class presidents.

“We’ve done actually a very good job,” Voqui said. “We’ve done a lot to implement McDaniel pride.”


What’s clear from every student council member is they care about those they represent, and they strive to do the best job they can. They aren’t aloof politicians, but kind-hearted members of the council trying to represent their classes and do what’s best for them. And they’re from all of our grades. 

The student council does not need to be a distant body with unknown members. It can be a fixture of the student body, a place whose members are known throughout the school for being the voice of their peers.