Westmont student named state president-elect of Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils

Feb. 24—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — For the first time ever, a Westmont Hilltop High School student has earned the title of state president-elect of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils.

Chanith Jayasooriya will serve in the role from now until February 2024, then as president of the group from then through February 2025.

"It was a very nerve-wracking and stressful process, but it was very worth it in the end," the sophomore said.

Jayasooriya has been involved with student council since his was in fourth grade.

The activities and positive impact on the school district hooked him then and he's been part of the organization ever since.

Jonathan Rutledge, Westmont high school's student council adviser, describe Jayasooriya as an integral part of the group, who works well with others and has great ideas.

He noted that he recognized how helpful Jayasooriya was in 2019 when the district held the PASC conference.

"He's a really good kid and I think he impressed everybody at the state level," Rutledge said. "To be chosen out of the entire state is quite an accomplishment for Chanith."

It was the adviser who encourage Jayasooriya to apply for the president after suggesting he serve as the area's regency representative.

The student said as he fulfilled his duties as representative, he became reacquainted with the state council's work and became more involved.

When he decided to apply for the presidency, he had to write three essays, provide a resume, present a project and interview with the PASC executive board.

Jayasooriya said he received great feedback from the board and was "overjoyed and overall very excited" to be named president-elect.

He added that he was glad to make his family and school proud.

With this new position, he'll be responsible for assisting with the content and programing of the state conference, leadership camp, student workshops and for carrying out his project.

Jayasooriya wants to implement a mentoring program in which younger students are paired with other learners, possibly older individuals, so they "feel more welcomed and involved in the school environment."

His first act as president-elect will be to help organization of the regency conference and Mini-THON at Westmont on March 24 and 25.

This even will raise funds for Four Diamonds childhood cancer charity.

Rutledge said he's been impressed with Jayasooriya's work at the local and state levels.

He and Jayasooriya's goal moving forward is to get more local schools involved with the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils.