I want DMS to be a place where everyone belongs. No one should feel left out because of race, gender, religion or any other reason. We are all cougars! - Student Body President Emma Ferguson
If Daria Larimer were elected vice president of the 7th grade class at Dalton Middle School, she would develop a program for her peers to donate to local homeless shelters. If Emma Ferguson were elected class president, her campaign promises more microwaves in the cafeteria to cut back on the consistently long lines.
For the first time, these positions exist at Dalton Middle School thanks to teacher sponsors Tom Lee, Maegan Larimer and Amii Williams. Lee said when he started at the school two years ago, he saw a need for more student voice, knew the school could support a student government and felt confident that students would be interested in participating. Considering 121 students campaigned for office, and 1,486 students cast votes in the election, it's safe to say he was right.
Nominees had two weeks to campaign, filling the hallways with bright, colorful posters boasting phrases like "Got a dilemma? Vote for Emma!" Some based slogans off of their recognizable physical features, like "Go with the Fro. Vote for Daria," while others used rhymes and puns to their advantage: "Want a better tomorrow? Vote Amaro!" and Michael Nguyen's poster promising a "Win-Nguyen Situation."
Lee and his team spent last year planning the concept, informing staff and setting up the petitioning process. Their end goal is for the student body to handle as many decisions for the school as possible. Although it will be a change that will take some getting use to, it's worth it for the students to learn how to legislate.
"We believe in empowering students to understand their own voice before they leave here," said Lee. "More informed freshmen will, in turn, help to better the program at the high school, making their student council even more powerful."
The Dalton High School Student Council has been working with the middle school students, giving advice and tips on how to best represent their peers. At Dalton Middle's victory ceremony on Sept. 22, DHS Student Council President Valarie Gonzalez announced Emma Ferguson as the winner of the first-ever Dalton Middle School Student Body President.
Ferguson took the podium to deliver her acceptance speech. "I would like to start off by thanking you for your vote of confidence and electing me class president," she said. "I think we have an amazing school, with great kids and great teachers. I want to play a part in bringing change and making improvements in the school. I want to make sure all students know they have a voice, and that they can have a say in what's going on in our school. ...Also, I want DMS to be a place where everyone belongs. No one should feel left out because of race, gender, religion or any other reason. We are all Cougars!"
As Ferguson moves to the high school next year, she and the other 8th grade students should have a better understanding of the tedious planning that goes on behind the scenes of events like freshmen orientation, homecoming and the Cats Care Food Drive. DHS Student Council sponsor Nick Amonett said the relationship between the groups will better prepare them to serve their classes in the high school organizations and help with retention of 9th grade student council students into a second term.
"I hope that the students at DMS learn the role that the SGA officers play and are honest with them about feelings and opinions regarding DMS," said Amonett. "Great things are always happening in Dalton Public Schools, but the formation of this new SGA is special because of the empowerment it gives the students to be leaders of not only their grade, but their school, and be active in their community."
Each team has two representative positions, each grade has a vice president, and 8th grade students hold the positions of secretary, treasurer and student body president. Now that officers have been elected, the governing body will begin learning how to legislate, identify a community partner to help with community service and start their weekly meetings to express opinions and get involved around the school.
In her speech, Ferguson urged her peers to express their opinions and give suggestions. First order of business? Working with the PTO to get those microwaves.
|2017 SGA Officers|
|6th Grade VP||Alizey Gutierrez||6M|
|7th Grade VP||Shipley Maret||7C|
|8th Grade VP||Eva Amaro||8C|
|6D||Isaac De Los Santos||Jabarrion Dixon|
|6M||America Hernandez||Brianna Sandoval|
|6S||Mia Pena||Kim Hernandez|
|6C||Max Cowan||McCamy Johnson|
|6R||Jacqueline Morales||Felipe Miranda|
|7D||Geraldine Escalante||Gabriela Edris|
|7M||Miranda Mauldin||Yahir Moreno|
|7S||Bianca Lopez||Raylee Hankins|
|7C||Hala Bikhit||Paulina Garcia|
|7R||Rafael Maldonado||Shyne Vinyard|
|8D||Lexie Walker||Jacky De Leon|
|8M||Kayla Castro||Leilani Salaices|
|8S||Natalie Brewster||Paola Rodriguez|
|8C||Will Haley||Reid Rehberg|
|8R||Landon Painter||Gaby Alegria Chavez|
|8SA||Charlie Maldanado||Guadalupe Guijon|