West Orange HS senior named Student Leader of the Year by NJASC

Anya Dillard

WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School senior and Student Council President Anya Dillard has been named the 2020-21 Student Leader of the Year by the New Jersey Association of Student Councils. The annual awards recognize outstanding student councils and leaders from around the state.

According to the NJASC website, Dillard is active on and off the WOHS campus, in addition to her leadership on the Student Council. She is a member of the Nu Theta Omega Step Team, Jubilee Choir, National Honor Society, Unity Club and Black Girls Rock academy program.

In addition, Dillard is a founder of Next Gen Come Up, a web-based nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging youth to pursue activism, explore community service and express their creativity. Dillard also helped to organize the first-ever public celebration of Juneteenth in West Orange. She has been featured in Elle, Seventeen and Glamour magazines for her youth activism.

Student Council adviser Catherine Connors told NJASC, “Anya is not one to follow the crowd. She is confident in pursuing her interests regardless of whether they are considered ‘cool’ or not. Still, she is well liked by her peers, as well as the faculty and staff. Anya is not only a great student but a leader of her peers who has the ability and drive to create real social change.” 

In addition to Dillard, the Liberty Middle School and West Orange High School Student Councils were named recipients of the Top Ten Projects Award for their Thanksgiving food drive and Red Dot Day initiative, respectively. Approximately 10 high school and middle schools are selected from around the state each year for recognition.

The LMS Thanksgiving project is run annually by the Student Council and involves each classroom in the school. Boxes are decorated and students are asked to bring food to donate to those in need. 

For Red Dot Day, WOHS Student Council members used social media to promote feminine hygiene drives in West Orange schools and presented a Red Dot Day educational webinar hosted by Her Flow Foundation. Students were encouraged to wear red and post photos in support of Menstrual Awareness Week. The four WOHS Student Council officers posted information on social media in an effort to promote the education and normalization of conversations related to periods as well as period poverty. Almost 20,000 feminine hygiene products were collected and distributed to West Orange students districtwide.