Throughout her three years at Leesville, Maggie Bell, a junior, has ingrained herself in the school community. She is a sports editor for the Menagerie, Leesville’s yearbook; she has earned her place in three honor societies: National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and National Journalism Honor Society; she also participates in Future Teachers of America and the Special Needs Awareness Club.
However, Bell dedicates most of her time to Leesville’s Executive Council. A member since the beginning of her freshman year, she has dedicated countless hours to the betterment of the council, the school, and the community.
A rocky start to freshman year
In middle school, Bell did not consider participating in student council during high school. Instead, she set her sights on other activities: Yearbook and sports. Bell tried out for Leesville’s cheerleading team before the start of her freshman year but, to the benefit of the Executive Council, did not make the team.
The week before her freshman year would begin, Bell entered the Club Fair at Pride Launch and met Erika Nelson at the Executive Council’s booth. Nelson was then a junior and one of the Executive Council vice presidents; now, she is a freshman at North Carolina State University. She introduced Bell to student council at Leesville, and Bell took a flyer from the booth.
Even after Pride Launch, Executive Council did not interest Bell. She intended to run for a position in the Freshman Class Council but missed her opportunity.
“I actually wanted to run for a [Freshman] Class Council office, but I missed the interest meeting for that, and so I was really upset,” said Bell.
To top off these disappoints at the start of high school, Bell felt lost at Leesville despite having attended Leesville Road Middle School. Shy and quiet, she struggled to find her place in Leesville’s extensive—and sometimes intimidating—community.
Rising through the ranks
But Bell’s luck changed when her mother suggested that she attend the interest meeting for the Executive Council. At the meeting, she decided to join, and she quickly became involved in the council.
That March, Leesville would host the North Carolina Association of Student Councils (NCASC) 2017 State Convention. Even in the fall, Executive Council members were hard at work preparing for this event. As March approached, Bell and other members of the council began to stay after school to plan for the convention. Through these after-school work sessions, she got to know her fellow Executive Council members and witnessed their dedication to the council’s goals.
Because of the council’s involvement in the convention and the influence of current Executive Council officers, Bell ran for student body treasurer at the end of her freshman year.
“Since we planned our state convention our freshman year, and I helped out a lot of those days, I saw all the work that Exec. got to do,” Bell said. “Erika and some of the other [officers] encouraged me to run for [an Executive Council position], and so I thought it would be pretty fun to try it out and a good experience.”
Two students opposed Bell in the election for treasurer, but she emerged victorious. As a result of her elevated status, Bell became more active than ever in the council during her sophomore year. She led committees and, at weekly officers’ meetings, helped to plan meetings and events.
That year, Bell worked with her fellow officers and members of the council to coordinate an event new to Leesville: “25 Years of Pride”, an awards night for Leesville staff members. Through a coordinated effort, the event was a success.
Again, Bell ran for an officer position; she was one of two winners in the election for vice president. During this past school year, she helped to organize two new events—a holiday party for Leesville staff members and Volleybros—as well as other events such as Homecoming, Powderpuff, and the Victory Junction fundraiser.
And finally, earlier this April, Bell was on the ballot for the third time. She ran for Executive Council president and won the election.
“Ever since freshman year, when I first joined Exec., and sophomore year, when I first held an office, I’ve just loved the work we’ve done, and I really wanted to run for president to be a role model and a leader for all the incoming officers and the other members of Exec.,” said Bell.
In early May, she will officially succeed Cecelia Marks, Leesville senior and current student body president. Over the next year, she is looking forward to seeing new Executive Council members fall in love with the council just as she did at the start of her freshman year.
Her place in the Executive Council has led Bell to realize the value of collaboration, of working with others toward a common goal. In addition, it has allowed her to find a supportive community within Leesville.
“I came [into high school] as a very shy, reserved freshman and didn’t really know anybody.…I came from Leesville Middle School, [so] I had people I knew, but [student council] definitely gave me an outlet to put my work ethic in to really feel like part of the family as student council,” Bell said. “[Student council has] given me confidence. It’s given me a purpose, a drive.”
Alongside her participation in Leesville’s Executive Council, Bell is involved in a statewide student council organization, the North Carolina Association of Student Councils (NCASC). She first learned about this group in the fall of her freshman year.
“At one of our Exec. meetings, Ms. Mayfield[, Leesville math teacher and Executive Council advisor,] announced that there was an opening for attending a Central District conference, and so she was asking if any of the freshmen wanted to go,” said Bell. “[At the conference,] I got to know some of the older members of Exec., and I got to see what [NCASC] was.”
Bell attended the 2016 Central District Conference. There, she both interacted with older members of the Executive and experienced NCASC firsthand. Later that school year, she helped the Executive Council host the 2017 NCASC State Convention.
Like any school’s student council, NCASC has its own officers, who make up its Executive Board. For the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 school years, Leesville had held a spot on the board. Mayfield suggested to Bell that she represent Leesville and run for a state board position.
“From seeing the work that NCASC does, I always thought it was cool, but then Ms. Mayfield sat me down and asked me if I would consider running for an NCASC office,” Bell said. “The more I considered it, the more I thought it would be a great thing to try and to try and run for as you get to meet so many amazing people from across the state and go to a lot of really cool events.”
So, at the 2018 NCASC State Convention at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville, North Carolina, Bell represented Leesville in the race for the position of NCASC first vice president. The process involved delivering a speech, presenting a video that she had made before the convention, and answering questions in three caucuses. Despite her efforts, Bell lost the election.
“It was definitely a humbling experience. I think the person that beat me, she ran a great campaign, and she definitely deserved it,” said Bell.
Nevertheless, she learned what a successful campaign for a state office looks like and how to craft effective responses in the caucuses. Using these lessons, she prepared to run for first vice president again at the 2019 NCASC State Convention at Roanoke Rapids High School in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.
Bell began planning her campaign well in advance of the convention, which took place in mid-March. In the weeks leading up the convention, she practiced her speech by delivering it to the Executive Council at meetings, and council members grilled her with questions to prepare her for the caucuses. Additionally, she involved the entire council in the creation of her video.
In the end, her hard work paid off.
“[Winning the election] was very surreal. I had worked for it for a long time,” Bell said. “They announced, ‘Leesville Road,’ and so I just jumped up and ran to the stage, and I was excited and giddy, slightly nervous at the same time though, like, ‘Oh, wow, this is real. We’ll be a state officer school.’”
As first vice president of NCASC, Bell and Leesville’s Executive Council will coordinate efforts to benefit Victory Junction, NCASC’s chosen charity. Victory Junction is a free camp for children with special needs or chronic illnesses. Each year, NCASC members participate in a workday at Victory Junction, located in Randleman, North Carolina, to prepare the camp for upcoming events, and throughout the year, schools, including Leesville, raise money for NCASC. Next year, Leesville’s Executive Council will also be in charge of organizing the inaugural A Run to Victory fun-run, which benefits Victory Junction. Another responsibility of the first vice president school is to arrange the awards ceremony at the NCASC state convention.
Over the next year, Bell, Leesville’s incoming student body president, will lead the Executive Council in improving the Leesville community and in assisting NCASC. Bell’s passion for student-leadership and for the goals of Leesville’s Executive Council and NCASC have shown through her dedication to these organizations. She has a busy yet fulfilling senior year ahead of her.