With the upheaval of the current school year, your student council—and the direction, culture, and sense of community it provides for the school—are more important than ever. Help galvanize your student council by widening the ways you keep members engaged as you look ahead to the next school year.

Hold a summer retreat.

This can serve as an orientation for newly elected officers by addressing the expectations for meetings and what is needed from all council members. Officers can use the retreat to develop confidence in their roles, brainstorm ideas, and be ready to hit the ground running when school starts again in the fall. If you can’t meet in person, consider how you can also utilize virtual tools to “meet” with officers. This is also a good time to set goals for the coming year and to review the student council calendar of the past school year to help anticipate upcoming activities.

Plan for leadership development.

NatStuCo has several programs that promote leadership development. The Emerging Student Leader program for the middle level and the Distinguished Student Leader program for high school promote reflection and growth in individual students. Both of these programs are completed throughout the school year, but it can be valuable to remind your students of these now and review them so students can begin thinking about their leadership growth and planning for next year. Check them out at www.NatStuCo.org/emerging and www.NatStuCo.org/dsl.

Focus on inclusion.

Brainstorm ways to engage the whole student body. It’s not enough to just celebrate school spirit—it takes time to build a culture where all students are engaged and take pride in their school. Start brainstorming now for a great back-to-school experience to make everyone feel welcome.

Check out projects from other schools. The National Student Project Database at www.NatStuCo.org/projects highlights thousands of activities and service projects organized by schools around the country. Find ideas for your council’s next project by seeing what your peers have accomplished.

Find your network.

You aren’t alone in your role as an adviser. The Adviser Online Community at https://community.nassp.org connects you with fellow advisers so you can share advice, find support, and pool resources and ideas to help your council members shine. —