The Norman Transcript

October 14, 2013

Leading runs in family

By Doris Wedge
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — High school student councils aren’t usually seen as a family affair. Except, that is, for one Norman family that has three generations with vested interests in Norman High and the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils.

Norman High senior Peyton Powers is president of the state-wide organization. He is the third generation of his family to be involved with student councils, beginning with his grandmother, Marrae Quinn, long-time student council advisor at West Mid High and Norman High. His mother, Katy Powers, was involved in student government activities at the state level while a Norman High student, serving as state secretary and hosting the state convention that year.

“We are the first family to have more than one member serve as a state officer,” Quinn said.

When Peyton Powers made the move from 8th grader at Alcott to Norman High freshman, he decided to jump in feet first, running for a position as freshman senator. Thus began a career that will culminate the first weekend in November when he presides at the state convention.

These past three plus years at Norman High have been full as he worked with other students to deal with interests of the students, and activities, including their annual Tiger Palooza fund-raising event.  He is especially proud of the outcome of last year’s campaign, raising $32,000 for Bridges to assist high school students.

They are currently seeking a sponsor to help provide a vehicle for Norman High student Jake Pyle, who is wheelchair bound due to spinal muscular atrophy, Powers said.

Norman High students produced a video for a competition they hope will add more money to the project. It was Katy Perry’s tune ‘Roar’ which has a line about the “eye of the tiger” which fit perfectly into a theme for a video. They don’t know the results of the competition yet, but are hopeful to be able to add some prize money to the dollars already raised.

It was a music video that helped boost Norman High into the presidency at last year’s convention. Peyton explained that it is actually the high school that wins the elected position, with the presidency determined by the school.

“Last year we did a video in the style of the popular gangnam dance” made popular by a Korean singer. “It was a chance to show what Norman High could bring to the leadership,” Peyton said.

Serving on the Senate “is a year-round job,” he says. Add to that the responsibility for the state competition, and he says “I have found I have a lot more energy than I thought I did.” With the state convention just weeks away, the speakers are secured and the theme is set. “Lead Beyond Your Mask.”

It is a reference to super heros, Powers said, “and we want to challenge the participants to take off their masks, to be confident leaders and to do extraordinary things. We don’t have to suit up to soar to great heights.” He will have the support of the entire Norman High Student Senate, 25 strong, at the convention in Bixby.

His grandmother Quinn, who he calls his “head cheerleader,” saw his interests and abilities in leadership several years ago when he was on the student council at McKinley grade school. An 18-year veteran of state student council conventions, Quinn says of her work with the youth, “I wanted them to learn to be able to do things on their own, and to help others.”

In addition to the state conventions, she attended the 2006 national convention, the year she was a finalist for National Advisor of the Year.

Even grandfather Dan Quinn, a former Norman High and Norman North principal, has gotten in on student council activities, having served with her as an advisor at summer leadership camps. Mom Katy Powers wrote the curriculum for the advanced leadership training program, the goal being “to prepare them to be leaders among leaders,” she said, “and to encourage them to realize how quickly these experiences will go by.”

Another layer in a many-tiered story of student council leadership is this. Young Powers’ parents, Katy and Michael, met at a National Association of Student Council convention, when he was a delegate from Moore High School.

This summer Peyton will attend state leadership workshops and the national convention in Las Vegas. His self-set standards are “to be observant and helpful, and to always realize that I represent more than myself.”

With the state convention in the rear view mirror, it will give him more time to concentrate on his next step, choosing a college. Interested in history and government, he and his father visited two Virginia colleges, William and Mary and Washington and Lee, each of them with strong programs in his interest areas. But OU, OSU, Kansas State and Ole Miss are still on the table. He knows that his future will include “working with people, and service.”