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West Orange High School Students Receive Awards at New Jersey Association of Student Councils Convention

WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange High School Student Council President Selam Woldai received "Student Leader of the Year" and sophomore Rian DeVera was elected as Vice-President to the New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC) on Jan. 9.


Selam attended the 93rd annual NJASC convention with DeVera and Health Careers Club Vice-President Siddi Moddhi, who worked with Woldai on their award-winning Top Ten Project for Green Ribbon Week. The NJASC described their winning project:


"In this service project, through partnership with the GrassROOTS Community Foundation and using the #GreenRibbonWeek for social media, students become actively involved in the conversation regarding mental health, suicide and assistance. Throughout the week, students learn to normalize the conversation about mental health, and an overwhelming amount of statistics that support the notion that many kids feel the same.  Students also become aware of our Student Assistant Counselors, who are available to identify issues affecting a student’s mental health and possible impact upon their academic performance.


During a common lunch block, students circulate the Cafeterias with helpful hints and information to improve overall mental health. There are giveaways for students participating in our mental health word wall to help spread awareness.  This project creates an environment that supports youth mental health and allow young people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles while making conversations about mental health as common as conversations about physical health.


A total of 20 of 20 Student Council Members 100% participation and 5 out of 20 students from the HOSA (Health Career Club) 25% also assisted.  Over 1,00 students out of the 2,200 from West Orange High School participated in the week’s activities and awareness efforts (over 50%)."


Grassroots Community Foundation founder, Dr. Janice Johnson, noted on the GCF Facebook page, "Congratulations to the team at West Orange High School, including advisor Catherine Connors and student leaders, Selam and Siddhi, for spearheading GrassROOTS’ mental health initiative #GreenRibbonWeek. The two students were among the winners of Top Ten Projects at the New Jersey Association of Student Councils conference. We are deeply honored and extremely excited to work with them again in the future."


In addition to her role as Student Council President, Selam is Vice-President of the Unity Club and Editor-in-Chief of the high school Yearbook. She is a Mountaineer Mentor, a member of the Junior Statesman of America, and a member of five honor societies. She plans to major in Political Science.


In the words of a fellow Student Council member, “Selam is truly the most ambitious and hard-working person I know. She used her role as Vice President of the Unity Club to lead protests on gun reform and host town hall discussions that have involved Senator Cory Booker. She has tackled every obstacle to come her way and made sure that our Student Body and community would never face the same.”


In the words of the Student Council advisor Catherine Connors, “Selam is not one to follow the crowd.  She is confident in pursuing her interest, regardless of whether they are considered ‘cool’ or not. She is not only a great student but a leader of her peers with the ability and drive to create real social change. She is a born leader and is motivated to create positive change for her peers and fellow Americans."


For more information, contact Advisor Catherine Connors at



Selam Woldai, Rian DeVera, and Siddhi Modhi.


WOHS Student Council and Health Careers members with DeVera (left, in black), Principal Hayden Moore, center, Siddi Modhi (to left of Moore), advisor Catherine Connors (to left of Moddhi) and Woldai (to right of Moore.)


Cynthia Cumming
Jan. 12, 2019