Editor's note: The following is a press release issued by .
Ira Hammond and Corey Jones have their high school diplomas now thanks to , but as they head to Joliet Junior College in the fall, they will do so hoping their legacy will live on at STEP.
Hammond, you see, had a dream. He wanted to find a way for STEP students to get involved with their school.
“I saw that a lot of students didn’t really have something to do,” he said as he recalled pitching his idea for a Student Council to staff and administrators last fall. “I wanted to show people they can be part of something great. You can put your skills and your hard work and your ideas into something to help the STEP program grow.”
Once he got the go-ahead, Student Council President Hammond recruited his friend, Corey, to be vice president.
“We have a good friendship,” Hammond said. “That’s what it’s all about in Student Council. If you don’t have a good president and a good vice president, how you going to get anything done?”
“It never really dawned on me that we could do this because it’s a small school and I wasn’t sure if the students were up for it,” said Jones, who said he served as a Student Council officer in his previous school. “But people got a lot out of it.”
The two student body leaders planned events like the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast and a school-year-ending party at . But they did more than that.
“They were good role models,” said teacher Melanie Phelan, who serves as Student Council co-sponsor along with Sandra Jones. “They took a lot of our students who were having behavior or respect problems and they turned them around a little bit.
“This is like a job, a really important job,” she added. “Ira and Corey really took the lead on that and did a real good job.”
“This year was like a stepping stone. We’re planting a seed to grow and grow,” Hammond said. “When people come back next year it’s time for them to do what they gotta do to make this work.”
“I hope they take advantage of this opportunity to have a voice and be their own advocate,” Jones added. “They can’t be afraid to say: ‘this is what will make the school better.’”
Phelan, who was a Student Council President herself, hopes to start next year with a campaign to choose officers complete with applications and recommendations.
And, while no one would admit it, odds are pretty good that, if needed, Ira and Corey will come back for a couple of consultation sessions.