National Student Council’s Distinguished Student Leaders Program is a rigorous and challenging skill- and knowledge-based recognition program created specifically for high school students who want to take their leadership to the next level. Now is a good time to remind your students to submit their portfolios or to familiarize themselves with the requirements of building a portfolio for the next school year.

Students who complete the NatStuCo Distinguished Student Leaders Program not only gain the satisfaction of achieving this national recognition, but they also will have demonstrated personal leadership abilities. The distinction can also be included in recognitions and accomplishments on college and scholarship applications. For schools, having students recognized is a testament to the strength of the student council in developing and training student leaders.

The Adviser’s Role

While students are responsible for the bulk of the work in putting together a portfolio for review, be sure you’re prepared for your role in the process. While those duties typically won’t extend beyond normal activities within the council, there are several ongoing responsibilities in the application process:

  • Support. As an adviser, you should offer encouragement and support as the student works through the application process and seeks opportunities to build a portfolio. Be their personal cheerleader!
  • Verification. Students must demonstrate both knowledge and skill in multiple areas of leadership and must create portfolios of their work. Through this process, you will be asked to observe students in a variety of activities and to affirm the student’s mastery of each activity or demonstration.
  • Affirmation. Students must meet with their adviser and principal to present completed portfolios for evaluation. After reviewing the application and presentation, the principal and adviser will affirm if the student has met the requirements to be recognized and will sign the appropriate page of the application.
  • Recommendation. An adviser will be asked to write a letter of recommendation for the student. A sample letter is available at

Applications for the Distinguished Student Leaders Program are accepted throughout the school year, and it can take the national office approximately four weeks to render a decision once portfolios are submitted for evaluation. Encourage your students to cultivate their leadership skills, accept the challenges, and work to earn the title of Distinguished Student Leader!