Tilves and MOHS Student Council members pose for a picture after the election results were announced, naming Tilves president.
Benett Tilves elected President of NJASC
Benett Tilves was recently elected as the President of the New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC)--the first time Mount Olive High School has had a student representative since 2013 and the first time a MOHS candidate has been elected to the position of president since 1991.
Tilves, who has been a member of Mount Olive's Student Council (StuCo) since his freshman year, said he wanted to run for state office for "a chance to make an impact in all of the schools in New Jersey, not only Mount Olive." He continued, "It is a great opportunity to advance my leadership skills and make a big difference."
As president, some of Tilves's responsibilities include: running state meetings, representing the state at the Region ll and National STUCO conference, leading the delegations at LTC, organizing three additional NJ conferences, and helping everyone share ideas and turn them into practice.
Tilves had been interested in running for office since his first Winter NJASC Conference several years ago. Since then he has devoted his time to StuCo, learning how to organize and run events, problem-solve, and think quickly on his feet.
As for future goals as NJASC President, Tilves said he hopes that more MOHS students will attend the Leadership Training Conference this July, hosted by NJASC. As a former LTC attendee, Tilves described it as "an action-packed delegation" with fun events to help build leadership skills.
Mrs. Melissa Pawlyk, Student Council Advisor, is proud of all the hard work Tilves put into the campaign and is excited for the leadership opportunities this position will provide. Mrs. Pawlyk explained, "This is really a huge opportunity for not only Benett, but the MOHS Student Council as a whole. I am hoping that Benett's involvement in the NJASC will encourage other students in the MOHS StuCo to get more involved."
Tilves and Mrs. Pawlyk will be attending monthly NJASC meetings with the other officers and advisors. Mrs. Pawlyk said, "I'm hoping we can get some new ideas to refresh the MOHS Student Council and bring new events to our student body. I am also hoping to have Benett turn key some of the ideas he learns and skills he develops to our Student Council students and improve the whole council's leadership."
Tilves and his advisor, Mrs. Pawlyk, attend the NJASC winter conference where Benett was elected.
Alex Parillo works with a student in Ms. Darnesto's third grade class at Tinc, teaching her American Sign Language.
Finding a voice through ASL
Easily communicating verbally is something people may take for granted, but Alexandra Parillo recognizes the importance of communication and wants to ensure all people in our community feel a sense of belonging. Realizing that there are many people in Mount Olive and surrounding communities who have hearing loss or impairments, Parillo has made it her mission to spread awareness of American Sign Language (ASL), teaching others how to communicate through signs.
Three years ago, Parillo started an American Sign Language (ASL) club at Mount Olive High School. Since then she has worked with elementary school students, volunteering and teaching them ASL, and she has worked to make ASL a class students can take at MOHS.
Working with Ms. Darnesto's third grade class at Tinc Road School and teaching them ASL has been a highlight of Parillo's volunteer work. She said, "I wanted to show there was interest in ASL in younger ages so when they eventually come to the high school they have an ASL course to take."
Through over 80 hours of community service, Parillo began these endeavors as part of her work towards earning her Gold Award as a member of the Girl Scouts. Parillo said, "A Gold Award has to be sustainable and has to make a change in the community, so I thought that ASL is a good skill to have to communicate with people with hearing loss. It's 80 hours of community service, so you want it to be something you actually want to keep doing, and I really enjoy it."
Parillo said her mother began signing to her when she was little, and as she got older she continued to learn sign language through various Girl Scout events and community college classes.
Parillo has advocated for a new ASL class at MOHS. "Last year in November," she said, "I went to a board meeting and shared a proposal for the class. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, ASL will be offered as a World Language elective for the first time."
Even though her 80 hours of volunteer work to earn her Gold Award are complete, Parillo continues to go to Tinc every Friday after school to work with the students in Ms. Darnesto's class for an hour each time. "I love working with the kids," she said. "I hope they are learning the value of communication through our sessions."
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