The view from the glass house Exploring positives, negatives of leadership roles

Chad Dryden Published:

By Kristen Salamon Theodore Roosevelt High School Living in a glass house has its challenges. The fact that the smallest stone can bring it crashing down is only one of the numerous disadvantages. The lack of privacy that results from living in a house made completely of windows forces those who live within it to accept responsibilities. The glass house is very fragile and the concept refers to all leaders, said Heidi Cowan, teacher and assistant planning committee adviser. Since society began, people have scrutinized public leaders and observed more closely the actions of those assumed to be role models. We have been able to criticize public officials for a long time. Although not to as great of an extent, leaders at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent are looked at in the same way, said Cindy Demarco, teacher and planning committee adviser. According to Demarco, Cowan and activities director Emma Owens, students must think carefully about whether or not they can live up to the expectations set before them. The expectations, Owens said, are not too high. I dont think that they expect too much of us; the rules arent hard to follow. But, it is almost a joke to expect some teens to follow (the conduct code) because they are going to do what they want to do, said Abby Stiegemeier, senior planning committee member. When students are in such public roles, (advisers and teachers) hear more about them, Demarco said. Demarco said teachers often approach her about the behavior of the so-called leaders of Roosevelt and their sometimes inappropriate actions and choices. Owens said community members, teachers, parents and other students have asked what it is to be considered a leader when those students in leadership positions are not being positive role models. Its different when you are a leader. When you show up at a party and drink a beer, people say the student council president is drinking a beer while if youre not in that position it is just Sam is drinking a beer, said Sam Harper, former student council president. While some may consider the reality of living in a glass house easy, some find this responsibility difficult. I am very aware that as high school students there are a lot of opportunities in which teens like to be a part of and the expectations we place on our leaders can be very hard to live up to as students, Cowan said. Students who may not necessarily be doing anything wrong still feel the constant pressure not to mess up. To some it is like having somebody to watch you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And the lack of privacy has the effect of putting large amounts of stress on positive role models. While there should be expectations on student leaders, the pressure put on them has intensified to a point of ridiculousness. Every move or decision that is made is constantly reevaluated by the Roosevelt faculty, an anonymous planning committee member said. For others, the pressure being applied to them is from two different sources. On one hand, students have advisers, peers and community members relying on them to be positive role models and do the right thing. On the other hand, students have friends and peers who pressure them to relax. It is a damned if you do, damned if you dont situation. You want to do the right thing but you want to go out and have fun with your friends at the same time, an anonymous junior said. Reprinted from The Colonel

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