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South High SGA earns state award

April 14, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

In addition to serving as student council president, Mike Dunham is a football player, National Honor Society historian and part-time worker.

"And full-time boyfriend," said Dunham, a senior at South Hagerstown High School.

As if spending 40 hours a week on South High's student government affairs isn't enough work for the 18-year-old.

While 40-hour weeks aren't the norm, the same story could be true for the school's other student government association officers. Virtually all of the SGA officers are student-athletes with part-time jobs, college-level classes and a slew of other extracurricular activities.

But amid all of the high school hustle and bustle, the students managed to maintain one of the most efficient student councils in the state, according to state school officials.

Last week, the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC) presented South High's SGA with the Felix Simon Award for Leadership and Service.

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South High was one of four schools to receive the honor, said Clyde Harrell, adviser to the Washington County Association of Student Councils.

Principal Richard Akers said it was the first time the school received the award. North Hagerstown High School received the award in 2004 and 1998.

"South Hagerstown High School worked very hard this year," said Harrell, supervisor of social studies for Washington County Public Schools.

Not only was the group able to maintain order and structure as a body, it also successfully engaged the student body, said South High history teacher Gene Ebersole, the SGA's faculty adviser.

South's SGA has organized at least one activity a month since school started, Dunham said.

One of those events was "Mr. South High."

"Pretty much like a beauty pageant, except it was for guys," said Chelsea Githens-Brewer, one of the event's organizers and SGA treasurer.

Chelsea, 17, said it initially was difficult to convince guys to sign up.

"They thought because it was a beauty pageant, they're going to put on dresses and stuff," said Chelsea, a senior.

But the event was a huge success, Chelsea said. Eleven South High boys entered the contest.

In addition to the pageant, the SGA raised $1,500 for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort and hosted two blood drives.

The student council also has lobbied locally and in Annapolis for more funding and for more say in decisions affecting schools.

"Who else knows better than the students?" Dunham asked.

With SGA elections approaching, the officers - all seniors - said they wanted something to pass to the next generation of SGA officers.

"Anybody can stand up and say, 'I want to run for president,'" said Courtney Summers, 18, the SGA's corresponding secretary.

Dunham already is posturing himself as Washington County's next lawmaker - under the theory that Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, will retire and that Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, will move to the Senate.

"That only leaves room for me," Dunham said.

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