Students revive leadership and advocacy organization

New opportunity to propose bills and improve leadership skills available to OPHS students

Top Row (from left to right): Grace Faussett, David Cho
Bottom Row: Eliana Morris

Eliana Morris

Top Row (from left to right): Grace Faussett, David Cho Bottom Row: Eliana Morris

Students looking to grow as leaders and activists can now do so through the California Association of Student Councils. The organization strives to create the next generation of leaders by developing their leadership skills and providing them with a platform to pursue legislative change. The organization has been committed to this mission since its founding in 1947 by the California Department of Education

Oak Park High School students can now take advantage of these opportunities thanks to the revival of CASC within Region 7, which serves the students of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barabara and Ventura Counties. The region was dormant for several years until it was reactivated in March of 2020.

“I truly believe in CASC’s message of the importance of peer-to-peer mentoring and the power of the youth. CASC wants students to own their education by becoming stakeholders with a voice,” Region 7 Outreach Director David Cho said.

CASC offers a variety of programs that allow students to reform their education system. Most notably, students write and propose bills to the State Senate and Assembly or propose educational policy reform to the State Board of Education. Six pieces of legislation written at these programs have been signed into action in the last eight years. Most recently, CASC student leaders helped to get AB543 signed by Governor Newsom in October of 2019. This bill required schools to post sexual harassment protocols around campus and online. 

“CASC grabbed my attention because it was completely student-run and focused on leadership building. I wanted to be part of an organization where I felt like I could create real change and improve as a leader,” Region 7 Vice President Grace Fausett said.

CASC is almost entirely student-led and student-run, keeping adult involvement at a minimum. Students plan, execute and host conferences at both the state and regional levels. At the regional level, students can attend a conference to develop their leadership skills or propose policy reforms to local school administrators. The Region 7 Fall Conference will take place on Oct. 10 over Zoom and focus on leadership development. 

“I’ve seen my leadership abilities drastically grow from the beginning of the summer when I joined CASC. When I had to conduct my first meeting, I had honestly never led a group of people before. I was pretty nervous and practiced for a while the night before. Ultimately, the meeting went smoothly and I was able to rise to the occasion,” Fausett said.

Many students who have joined CASC have similar stories to Fausett’s. The organization has trained over 250,000 students and received several accolades for their work. For instance, the California Task Force on Self-Esteem selected CASC as a model self-esteem program and the International Youth Foundation honored CASC as a model youth program. The cabinet members of Region 7 have stated that they wish to continue this legacy of empowerment within their local area.

“Even though Region 7 was dormant for quite some time, we created the largest region cabinet in the span of a few months. This shows that many students in our community want to get involved in leadership and advocacy,” Region 7 Secretary Eliana Morris said.  “I think we’re going to become one of the best regions in CASC because we’re so passionate and determined to make our region successful.”