Hailey Hardcastle, a junior at Sherwood High School, has been involved in student council ever since she became her class activities coordinator in seventh grade. After serving as her class president in high school, she knew the obvious next step would be to run for academic student body president — but she decided to aim higher.
So last month, Hardcastle became the first Sherwood student to be elected state student president of the Executive Board of the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC).
"The OASC's board is all juniors — seniors can't be on it — so this was my chance to get on it," Hardcastle said. "I figured I had been my class president for a while. I knew I had a lot of experience, even though it was just at the local level. I was really ready to take it to the next level."
Hardcastle campaigned at OASC's annual fall conference in Seaside, where about 1,500 students from more than a hundred Oregon high schools attended and voted. She and two other candidates passed OASC's application process to run.
The campaign rules were stiff — candidates were only allowed to hang up five posters and give away five T-shirts, so the bulk of the campaign lay in one speech — but Hardcastle found a creative way to get her name out there.
"I think one of the things that really set me apart from the other people was that I made a Snapchat filter that said 'Hardcastle for President,' and also 'OASC,'" she said. "People would want to tell people where they were, so they would use it, and then in the corner it said 'vote for me.' That was really helpful."
That flashy campaign tool was coupled with a platform that focused on accessibility for all Oregon students.
"I think most years they focus on recruitment, and bringing more people into OASC," she said. So I focused on, rather than trying to get even more people to come to camp — for financial reasons, not everyone can come — I focused on bringing it back to our schools for students who can't come."
During her one-year term, Hardcastle's responsibilities will include planning and facilitating OASC events, recruiting more students to be involved in OASC, and presiding over OASC board meetings, which include 10 student members and 10 adult members.
Hardcastle wants to modernize the way OASC communicates with its student constituents, by using an app rather than email. She'll also be sure to put in a lot of old-fashioned facetime.
"I'm going to visit a lot of the schools that are further from the metro area, and usually don't hear about things like this," she said.
The experience likely will help Hardcastle in her future career. She said she hopes to get into campaign management, and that while she could never be a professional politician herself, "the campaign process is really interesting to me."
Hardcastle said she's proud to be the first Sherwood student to achieve this accomplishment, and that she wants all students to feel comfortable approaching her about getting involved in OASC.
"Student council is kind of a big deal at our school, but it's mostly the same students over and over again," she said. "So I hope that this inspires future students to get involved, and see that you don't have to be the most popular or outgoing to accomplish something like this. I definitely am not, I'm just really into this one thing."