This week, Austin sits down with Josh Jacobs, Senior and Student Body President of Collierville High School to talk about the new high school, graduation, and how education has changed.
Watch the video here or read the transcript below!
Josh Jacobs – CHS Student Body President – Interview Transcript
Austin: Hey, Austin here with Tour Collierville, and for today’s Two Minute Tuesday, I’m sitting here with Josh Jacobs, and Josh is the first student body president at the new Collierville high school, so Josh, welcome.
Josh: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Austin: Yeah, thanks for coming. Thanks for coming. So, to start off, tell us what does a student body president do these days?
Josh: So, my job is a lot less what people think about. So, I’m the president of the student government association organization at my school, and so, with the word “government” being in the name, people think that I get to go talk to our principle and tell him what rules our school should have. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. I do a lot of event planning at our school. So, I run in a group of students at our school, and our job is to do a bunch of things that boost morale of the students, give them that high school experience.
Josh: So, anything that’s not academics or athletics, we do a lot of that: pep rallies, we’re in the middle of planning our Angel True program that we do every year, we do our homecoming dance, things like that. So, we do a lot of event planning, different things that kind of just give the student body a chance to break away from the mundane academics of the normal school day.
Austin: Yeah, gotcha. That’s pretty cool. You get to do the fun stuff, I guess.
Josh: Right, exactly. It’s fun when we get there. Working on it, it is a difficult thing to do, and it’s taught me a lot, but it is a really cool opportunity to have.
Austin: Yeah, gotcha. So you’re kind of the one that gets to corral all the ideas that everyone has and actually make them a reality. That’s pretty cool. So, being the first year at the new high school, tell me in general, how is school life different at the new school as opposed to the old?
Josh: Well, there’s a lot of things that are different. Some of them are small and some of them are pretty big. So, for the first three years of my high school experience, about one in every ten to fifteen classrooms had a window. So, I’d go into school at seven in the morning, it’d be dark outside, and I’d come out at two, and the sun would be up, and lo and behold the day had gone on.
Josh: So, just walking through a school building where I can see outside and look at a beautiful courtyard right in the center of the school, grass, trees, and just the building obviously is amazing. It’s like going to a small university. That’s beautiful in and of itself, and then also the new modern education that Collierville is beginning this year and pushing forward into the future where we have, you know, I’ve got three folders in my backpack and a laptop, and so all of my textbooks, all of my assignments, all of my grades are online.
Josh: Actually, I’ll tell a funny story. I think it’s funny. In middle school, I got into the habit of keeping my backpack unzipped because we didn’t have lockers and all of the stuff in my backpack was too much for me to zip it. So into high school, I carried on that habit and people who didn’t know me, knew me as the guy with the backpack open. So, I walked into school this year with my one laptop and three folders, with my backpack zipped up because I could now.
Austin: You could zip it up!
Josh: People approached me like, “Hey, man. I don’t know who you are, but isn’t your backpack supposed to be open?” So, it’s just a little change that’s been brought on by this modern education that we’re getting, and so that’s really cool just to have that, the ability to have everything we need in one little square. And I think it really does give us an edge, as far as moving into college, the job market, having familiarity with this technology so that is probably one of the coolest things about it. I love the cafeteria food now too.
Austin: Oh, yeah? Better food?
Josh: I always brought my lunch. Now, I’m buying every day.
Austin: Oh, really? What’s your favorite thing?
Josh: Look, so I’m a classic kind of guy, so every day I get in line and watch them grill my cheeseburger and french fries and chow down. It’s good.
Austin: We’re on the same page. I hear you. That’s right. That’s cool. I’m a cheeseburger guy too. So, the food’s better than it was at the old school?
Josh: Like, unbelievably, just exponentially better. I mean, we’ve got a chef, like I watch my food get cooked in front of me. It’s fresh and everything.
Austin: That’s pretty cool. That’s something I hadn’t heard about the new school. I hear a lot about this state-of-the-art school, but you know, better cheeseburgers, I wouldn’t have known. So, what’s the biggest change would you say?
Josh: I’m going to answer this from two perspectives: as a student at Collierville High School, and then as the student government President, Student Body president. So, for student government, we in the past, have a had an hour and a half lunch period because of the way the old schedule worked, where we could do our work, and now it’s switched to a forty-five minute period. And, so as far as leading this group, it’s an interesting transition because we went from having all this time where, honestly, we could kind of loaf around for half the time. So, it’s not really taking away a ton of work time, but it seems like this huge kind of change. And as far as working on stuff goes, it is an interesting, and I think it’s a valuable, lesson in kind of adapting, as far as leadership goes.
Josh: And I think to be able to take this group and show them how we can transition into this change and make it good still, I think it is a valuable opportunity that the new school has offered. And also just taking advantage of the gym that has 3,000 seats so we can now fit our entire student body in one pep rally versus two, so from a leadership perspective in student government, it’s a big change, and it’s difficult at times, as change is sometimes, but it is a valuable lesson I think in adaptability, how to move forward and be able to change what you’re doing in a way that’s going to let you be successful in the future, so I take that as an honor and a valuable experience that I’m able to be the one that brings that first step into that change, and then as a student, I think it’s really interesting actually, the culture of our students has changed, I think, between this year and last year. It’s interesting to walk around the school, and I think there’s there’s this pervading sense of respect and appreciation for what we have really. In my experience, it’s difficult to get high school students to respect and appreciate things.
Austin: Yeah, sure. So, everybody’s walking around with a little extra pep in their step now?
Josh: Right, and it’s really cool and it’s awesome to see in fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen year olds, watch them see what they have, and turn back to the community, and kind of have this eye outward to show that we appreciate it and even try and give back, because I think obviously it is community who gave us this opportunity. It’s not just the superintendent or our principle. It’s not just the school board that does this. It’s the town of Collierville, and so it’s really amazing to see our students receiving that in a way that is so respectful, and appreciative, and grateful, and then come to school with that attitude. They go to class with the attitude of this is something that so many people don’t have even in the United States.
Josh: This isn’t a first world versus third world thing. This is top class education versus the general public system throughout our country. So, it’s amazing to see kids appreciate that, and I think they’re going to try to do something with it, and obviously we had a great education before. We’ve got a lot of the same great teachers, same staff, same faculty that were just as amazing and influential at the old school, but I think this big new school is such a shock to people that it’s kind of opening their eyes and it’s really changed the culture at our school.
Austin: Well, that’s really cool. I think there’s something to be said for just being in town and seeing the process of it all, and how long it took, and what it took to get it there, and then being able to move into the new school and have that contrast. I think it makes it easy for the students to be able to say wow this is a big change and they did it for us. So, obviously a lot of change, which is good, but change can also present some challenges. What are some negatives or challenges, maybe something you wish was different, with the new school?
Josh: Well, I think, again, this being the first year at a brand-new school, with a brand-new system, we’re honestly changing so many things that to not expect some challenges is kind of ignorant. I think we should expect things to go wrong sometimes, and I think we should be okay with that, but I think this brand-new expensive building, a lot of our faculty and administration is understandably on edge about everything because I think the school feels the the eyes of the town of Collierville on them.
Austin: Kind of a it’s here now. We expect you to do something with it.
Josh: So, I think, that being the case, everyone is trying to make sure that we are the image is being expected from us, and so, again I’m kind of split up a little bit with SGA, that takes the form in a couple different things. So generally, we would have a first-day-of-school pep rally at the beginning of each school year because people are coming off of summer and generally when you have to go back to school after a summer, you don’t really feel like it.
Josh: Right, exactly. So, we would do a little morale booster right there at the beginning of the year to get people excited to be back and this year we were not able to do that for a couple reasons. The first being our gym wasn’t ready at that point, which of course presents some problems because that’s where we hold the pep rallies, but then just the scheduling at the new school, people trying to figure out class changes and things like that, we couldn’t hold a pep rally until, homecoming was our first pep rally, so that’s about a month and a half into the school, and that got a little frustrating because the student body and we were expecting to be able to hold these events to boost the morale, because school is school and people need a pick-me-up sometimes, but there were so many new things happening. People weren’t being able to get to class on time. People weren’t able to find their lunches or their teachers and there was so much stuff going on that we needed to just lay the foundation that we had to wait a little bit. And that was difficult because…
Austin: You can’t present too much change at one time.
Josh: Exactly. This new school, everyone was in such a rush to say, alright let’s take advantage of it, let’s do it, and people kind of had to learn to take it slow, take a breather, and say okay, let’s lay the foundation a little bit, let’s get used to this for a second, and then we can move forward, and so that was a little bit difficult to deal with, and of course, as the years go on, I think we will be able to do things like that more and more, but again, the new first year, things are going to happen like that.
Austin: You’ll be able to build on it, as people get used to it.
Josh: As a student, just in the day, I really don’t know if there’s anything I see as negative, as far as the changes related. Obviously, I’m an eighteen-year-old kid. I don’t love high school every day of the year. You know, I wake up sometimes, and I just really don’t really want to get out of my bed, and so that’s nothing new or different than any other high schooler’s experience…
Austin: Or work, I hate to tell you.
Josh: I’ve been told it gets harder which is slightly intimidating. So, as far as a new school, we’ve got forty-five minute lunches now, so we went from having twenty minutes to eat our lunch to forty-five. That’s a positive, to have that.
Austin: So, you get two cheeseburgers, maybe?
Josh: Yeah, exactly. Go through, sit down a little bit, let it digest, and go right on back. So, I really don’t know generally if anything is negative because of the change, and again, from the leadership student body perspective, planning these events, that is a little bit more behind the scenes. The student body doesn’t see a lot of that. They do miss it when stuff is not happening when they expect it too. That stuff is expected to happen though because, as this group of students that is supposed to plan these events, we do have to work a lot more closely with administration and our faculty to work with scheduling things because throwing in a pep rally in the middle of the day does mess up school and stuff like that, and so working more closely with the people who are kind of planning these logistical things, we expected a little bit of rough patches at the beginning, and I don’t think that’s a huge deal.
Austin: Do you enjoy kind of working behind the scenes like that? Obviously, when you’re working behind the scenes like that, people don’t always notice things when they’re going well, but then when something messes up, then they notice. How do you kind of deal with that?
Josh: I remember one time last year, when it was the middle of homecoming week, and for student government, homecoming week is just about the busiest week of the year. That’s pretty much our peak season right there.
Austin: Which, this year, homecoming was like first home game at the new stadium and stuff, so there was just a lot packed into one.
Josh: It was. It was very exciting. Every year, homecoming is such a big event, and I was sitting in class and somebody said to me, just during the course of a conversation, what does SGA even do?
Austin: So, you were a member of SGA last year?
Josh: Yes, sir. So, last year I was the director of government affairs, which actually did a lot of the logistical backroom stuff, so that was my position last year, but to hear that in the middle of homecoming week, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? This is the busiest I’ve been. I’m going to go home and spend the next three or four hours on stuff,’ and so it is difficult sometimes to hear that, but one of the first things I learned being in student government is that: a. you’re not going to please everybody and b. you’re not going to even come across people’s field of vision or their thoughts. Stuff just is what it is. Pep rallies are what they are to some people, and there’s nothing you can do about that, so I think, as far as that goes, I just try to have a lot of patience with the student government and the student body as a whole.
Josh: Because I’ve been a part of this for several years now, and I understand when things don’t go exactly as planned or when this happens and people don’t like it or whatever, and so I get that, and I actually was not in SGA for all four years of my high school experience, so I know what it’s like as well to just be a student outside, so I completely understand, and I don’t think that criticism is necessarily bad. I think it’s our job to listen to the student. So, if they don’t like something, that’s helpful for us because we won’t do it again. We will try to and do something that they would like instead, and so I would rather hear that criticism than not.
Austin: Do you know a rough number of the student body of the high school?
Josh: Yeah, it’s about 2,750.
Austin: Wow. That’s a lot of opinions.
Josh: Yeah, it’s a lot. We have thirty-six kids in SGA and it’s hard to get everybody to agree in that small group, so out of 2,750, we do what we can, and there are some things that are just kind of tradition at this point, but of course, as student body president, I get all the flack for everything, so my buddies, I’ll go into class, and they’ll be like, “That sucked,” and it’s like, “Well… you know… sorry about that…”
Austin: We’ll do better next time. There’s always another pep rally, right?
Josh: So, I get all the flack from everybody for stuff, but it’s whatever.
Austin: Well, somebody has to take the flack, right?
Josh: Exactly… man of the people. I’ll listen to the students.
Austin: I guess, moving forward a little bit, are y’all starting to plan for graduation and do y’all maybe have something special planned for the first graduating class?
Josh: Okay, so as far as graduation goes, the last thing I heard that was going to be kind of new, which this isn’t set in stone. I don’t even know if this is on the record or whatever, but I heard from good authority that there was a possibility we would have our graduation in the new stadium, as opposed to Bellevue Church, where we’ve had it in the past. Again, that’s not official or anything like that, but that is what I heard, and I think to have that kind of solidify this first year, so start it here, end it here.
Austin: I’m sure that that would be, if y’all able to pull that off, a very popular decision. You’re in Collierville. You want to graduate in Collierville, and you’ve got this beautiful new campus.
Josh: So, as the student body president, I get to give a speech at graduation, just that last little pep talk before we go out into the world and decide what we want to do with our lives as high schoolers, and I had a dream about the speech the other night, I haven’t started working on it, I had a dream about the speech the other night, and I told a joke, and to this crowd of 660 kids, seniors, and their families, I told this joke and got no response whatsoever. It was completely silent, and I woke up from my dream in a cold sweat, and so that was interesting. Hopefully, it’ll turn out better than that. I think it will.
Austin: I’m sure it will, man, and you’ve got plenty of time.
Josh: I hope so. I hope somebody laughs. I’ll come up with better jokes.
Austin: Someone will always laugh. There’ll always be at least one.
Josh: Someone’s going to feel bad at least. You’d hope someone has a little bit of compassion.
Austin: You’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. Well, I will say, I have seen a lot of students at the games and stuff, they throw this up. What is this?
Josh: This is the two c’s. Our student section is called the Collierville Crazies. You’re enrolled at Collierville High School, you’re a Collierville Crazy, and so this sign is just kind of, this is Collierville.
Austin: How long have y’all been doing that?
Josh: Seven years, and so since before I got there, but yeah, it’s kind of just tradition. I remember my first football game as a freshman, I was freaking out because there were all these shirtless senior dudes with paint just screaming their heads off, and I was like, ‘Hey, guys. I’m fourteen. I’ve never been to a high school football game before,’ and so I remember walking in and I was freaking out, and at some point during the game, people started throwing this up, and I was like, alright I guess I’ll do it too, because I’m fourteen and peer pressure happens.
Austin: Right, and you weren’t painted up, you’ve got to do something, right?
Josh: Right, you just kind of pick it up. It’s part of that Collierville Crazies tradition. It’s, we’re the students here we are, beat the other team, whatever, wherever we do it, we do it at clubs, I might throw it up at graduation, we’ll see, it’s just kind of our symbol.
Austin: Well, that’s cool. Collierville Crazies.
Josh: Collierville Crazies.
Austin: Alright, well I appreciate it Josh.
Josh: I appreciate it. Thank you.
Austin: Thanks for playing hooky.
Josh: No problem. It’s a pleasure.