HomePalmyra NewsPalmyra youth earns spot on state student council

Palmyra youth earns spot on state student council

Simon Jacobs will help shape the school experience in New Jersey

New Jersey Association of Student Councils
“One person a year gets to do it and that’s me now,” said Simon Jacobs ( front row) of his new role. “I hope I can help out Palmyra a lot.”

Seventh grader Simon Jacobs had never approached doing something as big as what he embarked on pursuing over the last several months.

Now the Palmyra Middle School student finds himself a 2024 state officer, the middle-level representative for the New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC). He was sworn in at the group’s transition meeting on Feb. 5.

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This year was South Jersey’s turn to serve on the state student council, which rotates on a multi-year basis with counties in Central and North Jersey.

It turned out the honor was not just a fun risk for Jacobs, but an opportunity to help shape the student experience at schools throughout the state moving forward.

“That was really surprising and exciting, but it’s been really nice,” he said. “I got some congratulations from people in my school … Hopefully, we’re going to add a lot of things to New Jersey schools and make them better.”

The appointment process began last year as Jacobs – a member of his school’s student council – was approached by Jennifer VanZandt, junior student council advisor, on the possibility of running for the state position.

Upon hearing the idea, Jacobs was intrigued and wanted to throw his name into the hat. He eventually represented his school at the NJASC winter convention in January.

But it was quite the process to get to that point. Jacobs submitted an application before the November deadline and was interviewed in December.

“I had some issues that I wanted to work on once I was on the student council,” Jacobs noted. “I included that in the application and talked about it in interviews.”

Presenting a platform as part of the student council campaigns was important, and Jacobs’ campaign, cleverly titled “Simon Says,” included such stances as increasing student interest and participation through the addition of new clubs and reducing carbon emissions through less plastic use.

At the NJASC convention, the youth presented his campaign to a room full of hundreds of spectators, arguably the toughest part of the process for him. But it didn’t take long for him to settle into his speech and win the council position.

“I’ve never really given a speech before, so it was nerve-wracking,” Jacobs acknowledged. “But once I got into it, it was cool. I’ve never even been student council president. I was just trying something. I didn’t think I would really get elected.”

Now, along with Palmyra High School junior Anna Paszkiewicz, Jacobs will serve on the state student council through the rest of this school year and into next. Their terms will continued through the next transition meeting for the 2025 council member inductions.

Being able to represent Palmyra at the state level is something Jacobs has taken pride in, and he’s eager to get some work done.

“One person a year gets to do it and that’s me now,” he observed. “I hope I can help out Palmyra a lot.”


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