November 4, 2020 Society & Politics

Sioux City East junior discovers her voice as state student council leader

Lorena Perales is an East High School Junior who serves on the statewide Iowa Association of Student Councils. Photo by Earl Horlyk, SCJ
Lorena Perales is an East High School Junior who serves on the statewide Iowa Association of Student Councils. Photo by Earl Horlyk, SCJ

A political novice engineered an electoral victory, securing herself a seat on a prestigious statewide stage?

Well, maybe Lorena Perales’ rise to the position of junior vice president-elect for the Iowa Association of Student Councils doesn’t have the inherent drama of “The West Wing” or the soul-stirring appeal of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Still, the journey to elective office was quite an achievement for the normally introverted East High School junior who wanted to break out of her shell.

“I’ve been an East student council member since the ninth grade,” Lorena explained. “I thought running for the state student council sounded like a great opportunity.”

First, she had to win the nomination by getting more votes than one of her East classmates. Then, she had to be approved by the Iowa Association of Student Councils (IASC), a nonprofit student leadership organization that promotes service, citizenship, character, integrity and academics.

Established in 1975, the IASC’s mission is to serve Iowa schools, students and advisers by providing resources, programs, leadership opportunities through collaboration, education, support and recognition to build tomorrow’s leaders.

It also allows student leaders to influence issues facing high school student councils around the state of Iowa.

IASC student officers do this by while working on a specific state project.

“Our state project was to have been finding ways to change Iowa’s environment for the future,” Lorena said. “Since that topic was selected, it has changed to also include a focus on COVID-19.”

Indeed, the way that IASC officers conduct business has been greatly altered due to the novel coronavirus.

Previously, meetings and conferences would be scheduled around the state. Due to COVID concerns, many of IASC’s activities have been accomplished via Zoom.

Which isn’t ideal for Lorena, but she understands it is important to stay safe.

Plus it will provide the experience she’ll need for her senior year.

“IASC officers who are juniors would normally shadow the officers who are currently seniors,” Lorena said. “Once the seniors graduate, junior officers will know how to take their place.”

That would come in handy if Lorena was looking to go into politics. Alas, she is not.

“Right now, I’m thinking of pursuing business or something medical in college,” she said. “Well, medical as in science, as opposed to becoming a doctor.”

Even though the pandemic has made her experience on the IASC more virtual than she’d like, Lorena is gaining a valuable lesson on 21st century learning.

“No matter what I do, I’ll need to become a good communicator and work as a collaborator on a team,” she said. “That is what I’m taking away from serving on East’s student council as well as with the state student council.”

View the full story by Earl Horlyk in the Sioux City Journal.