A leader is not defined by their academic success


Claire Renar, Video Editor

Often in those oddly popular blockbuster teen movies, the role of the “ASB President” or the preppy brunette in charge of Senior Prom is portrayed as an academically striving, straight-A student. But like everything else in these two and a half-star films, they do not accurately and truly depict who these students are.

I’ve organized one high school dance, planned a few rallies, lunchtime activities and helped with fundraisers, and oddly I don’t see myself resembling the stereotype of an involved student. The truth is, most youth leaders don’t resemble that stereotype at all. Even though it has little impact on the course of our day-to-day decisions, the stereotype must be broken.

The root of this stereotype comes from the association between a high GPA and a drive for school involvement. There should be absolutely no correlation between the two since an effective leader is not defined by their academic success.

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve never thrived in my academic courses. In middle school, my grades were the least of my attention, and that mindset stayed with me until my sophomore year of high school. I’m not afraid to admit this, even though maybe I should be (since I go to an academically rigorous school like Foothill). But for some reason, I like to embrace my failures and showcase my strengths.

The reason why I believe youth leaders are perceived to be so high-strung by the general public is that I once thought so myself. I thought ASB was just a poster-making club. I thought the kids who would always volunteer to speak on the microphone were self-centered and always wanted to be the center of attention. I would judge them before learning anything else about them, and I know now why I did this: I didn’t see myself as somebody who could be a leader.

In general, teenagers tend to be judgmental and self-doubting. It’s simply embedded into our skin. Whether we deny it or not, we have all thought something negative once about another student who doesn’t “ride the same wave” as us. My judgment used to be directed towards those preppy, straight-A leadership kids that I saw in the movies. Once I learned life is far more complex than those 100-minute, nonsensical teen movies, I realized no student has the same story. Therefore, we should not assume someone’s personality based off of what they enjoy doing.

One of the most valuable quotes that we hear regularly but still don’t put into practice is this: “never judge a book by its cover.” If we did this, there wouldn’t be this stigma surrounding the kids who focus their pursuits and greater aspirations on bettering the school and leading through their actions—both inside and outside the classroom. We must also remove the negative stigma around being a student who doesn’t have exceptionally high grades (from my perspective as a student who doesn’t have the same passion for school as many others).

There’s no point in defining a leader by their grades—after all, none of this nonsense will matter after graduation anyway.

What do you think?