Powell high school junior Emma Johnson becomes state president

Chase Anderson

More stories from Chase Anderson

December 15, 2022

Photo Courtesy of JoEllen Varian

Newly elected WASC Madam President Emma Johnston stands with Secretary Alyssa Ahlers of Thunder Basin and Vice President Cash Jones of Farson Eden as they complete the candle ceremony at the 2022 Wyoming Association of Student Council Convention.

At the annual Wyoming Association of Student Council Convention (WASC), one of Powell High School’s very own was elected as the Wyoming Student Council President.

Junior and Student Council Treasurer Emma Johnston created a campaign and ran for the state position at the 2022 convention. Johnston recounts the experience with gratitude:

Question: What made you decide to run for a state position?

Answer: I decided to run for the position of state president when I attended my sophomore year, I knew from there that I definitely wanted to run for a certain position just because I thought that it would be a really cool thing to be able to bring back new insight on the program to Powell’s High School Student Council. So then when the school year started and Mr. Whipple was reminding us that the convention was coming up, I was thinking to myself that, you know what might as well go big or go home. With going for president, I knew that I definitely had a unique insight into a lot of different things that happen at our high school, and I thought that I could bring something to the table that I hadn’t been able to see in the past few years.

Q: What was the experience like of going through the whole process and then giving your speech and finding out that you made it through?

A: When we arrived in Cody on Monday, I knew from the get-go that I didn’t want to be another one of those people that got up there and said, ‘I am so qualified because I’m a leader in this, and I am a captain in this club,’ because I found that that can be really redundant. Even at the federal government level, you hear all these people speak about why they’re so qualified, but you never get to know the person running. So I knew that from my speech, I wanted to establish that I’m here not just to make it look good on a resume, but because I want to get to know everyone that was at that convention. Of course, I was a little nervous when I got to the front because the lights were really bright and you couldn’t really see a lot of people’s faces, but my end goal was to engage with the audience and make it feel like I truly wanted to be there.

As for finding out I was one of two people who made it past generals, I just remember freaking out because I was so excited. I think I even hugged a couple of people. It was announced right after the dance and as I was walking out, my eyes were definitely a little watery because it was kind of surreal to think that all these Wyoming students voted for me. And then on the final day of the convention, I recall writing my speech that morning and hoping my humor would shine through. From there, it was just a waiting game and when it was announced that the newly elected president was from Powell, I think the whole auditorium started cheering. Our student council erupted into cheers, Cheyenne East kids were chanting my name and I think there was even a kid that shouted, ‘I love you, Emma!’ It was a pretty cool moment, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to experience something of that caliber again. 

Q: Have you heard any updates since the convention?

A: I think our first regional meeting is going to be held in Casper, and that will be sometime in January. That’s where I think we’re mostly going to discuss our hopes and goals for what we want to accomplish in the coming months. I know that I will be representing Wyoming, alongside my vice president and secretary at the national convention too so I’m looking forward to getting to meet other like-minded people at all of these different opportunities. 

Q: What is your biggest goal or desire for your position? What is motivating you?

A: This school year, I’d like to focus on broadening our social media outreach. I know that this is a tool that some student councils are scared to use just because it can be really uneasy knowing that you don’t know how many people are going to want to respond to it or if you’re going to do the right or wrong thing that’s considered trendy or considered to be really just tacky. One of the things that I want to do is create challenges that we’re able to fulfill and allow student councils to get comfortable with that social media platform, whether it be on Instagram or TikTok, just because phones are something that we have in our pockets and it’s a tool that we have access to 24/7. I know that we can definitely help student councils not only make a more significant media presence but also help others realize what people around the state are doing. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to scroll through Instagram and look through the pictures than to read over a long text message this is the recap of what we did. But yes, that’s definitely one of my goals, which is to make sure that we expand our social media presence but also really prioritize the connections we have with everyone.

Q: How do you think that you being the overall president of the state is going to impact Powell High School?

A:  I think that being president will have an impact on our school through what I personally know and what I can pass on to PHS, just because communication seems to be a thing that we’ve all struggled with on a state level and even on a local level. Having the resources of knowing what everyone can have access to will definitely help broaden our horizon and hopefully help put Powell on the map for its creativity and genuinity.