Mr. Poppleton "T-Pop" on Student Council and Teaching
By Kaya Diebes & Abby Beddow
How long have you been teaching at Centennial?
“This will be my seventh year.”
What do you think the best part of teaching is?
“I love it when students get excited when they learn something that they’ve struggled with.”
What classes do you teach?
“I teach chemistry, and I teach physical science.”
How long have you been the advisor for student council?
“This is going to be my fifth or sixth year. The students came to me when their student council advisor was leaving, so they were desperately looking for people. [...] I didn’t want to do it because I was a little scared because I wasn’t really involved with any of that before this. I didn’t really do student council when I was in high school. I did NHS, but not student council, so it was an all new experience for me too.”
How many students are in student council?
“It varies from year to year, but I think there is around 40 this year.”
How do students apply to be a part of student council?
“At the end of each year, usually an application opens. [Students] have to fill out a large packet where they have to get signatures from people, they have to write, like, an essay, kind of describing how their school spirit is, and how they would contribute to the spirit of the school and what they think of student council. Then, they have to get teacher letters of recommendation, things like that. So, there is just a process at the very end of each year that they fill out and do for the following year. Sometimes there’s an interview, sometimes not.”
What leadership roles do the students take part in, in student council?
“So there are officers, then there are committee chairs and there’s just the committee members themselves. And so the officers are the ones that really run the show. They’re the ones that form the meetings, make sure people are there. To tell you the truth, as an advisor, I mostly just kind of watch as the students take leadership, and I like it that way. Students are the ones that are in control cause it’s a student activity.”
“There are committee chairs, usually they’re the ones that form committees for, like, school spirit week. They might have a royalty committee, they might have a dance committee. And the committees are fluid, they might change them up a little bit, but usually there is a committee chair that’s kind of overseeing that and works well with the officers. And then there is the committee members, which are just as important. I mean you can’t have a student council, and you can’t have people without the workers actually doing it.”
“I like to think that everybody has leadership or everybody should be, even if they don’t have a leadership role. It’s all about getting leadership, it’s all about learning to be a leader. So, we seek those who are leaders, but we also seek those who really just need to be pushed over the edge to become a leader.”
Are the leadership roles sorted by age or grade?
“Sometimes they are, but for the most part no. This year we tried to do something new. [Student council members] called them family groups. So what the officers did was, they each took a certain chunk of students to get them more comfortable because it’s such a large group, some students get lost. Like, they might not be in an active role because it’s very easy to get lost as a member of a big group. They try to chunk them down into smaller groups, making sure everybody has a voice.”
“Now as for the committees, the committees are, at first, self chosen. Students can go and choose what committee they want to be. So you come in there and you’re like ‘Dance sounds really cool!’, and that goes in there. Now, for the most part, if a committee fills up they’ll probably choose, first, some people with some experience, and then they’ll try to choose some people without experience, and then they’ll try to choose people who will be here next year because they want to get the younger people involved, the students who are at a lower level in involvement.”
“Because the seniors are going to leave and they’re going to take all that knowledge with them, so they need to kind of keep in mind that they need to train those who are younger, who aren’t as old there. So, no I wouldn’t say it’s by age group at all, but there are definitely things at play that we have to take in consideration for each thing that we do.”
What are some of the main events that student council takes part in?
“Student council is incharge of the spirit weeks for homecoming and winter week. And then they’ll have some periodic things here and there. They helped out with, last year, they did the large volunteer project. [...] Previously, they’ve done things like staff appreciation, but like I said, some of the other things are more fluid. But every year we definitely do homecoming and winter week, which are our big ones, and then the bonfire [...]”
Are there any other notes you’d like to add about teaching or student council?
“Well, student council, like I said, I would recommend anybody who wants to apply, to apply. Not everybody is going to get in but keep trying. I think some people have a little misconception about that. Like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get in, so I shouldn’t try anymore.’ No, keep trying! I think a lot of it has to do with sheer numbers and there’s a lot of people who definitely need it. And we’re not just looking for leaders, we want people who want to become leaders as well.”
“As for teaching, teaching is awesome. Especially when students enjoy learning, you know what I mean. So I’d say even of you don’t enjoy taking chemistry, or don’t enjoy what we’re doing that day, it’s all about the struggle, and becoming college, career ready students. I say, ‘Strive to be college and career ready for anybody who's looking for academic things.’”