What is the NASC Distinguished Student Leader Program?

The NASC Distinguished Student Leader Program is a challenging skill and knowledge-based recognition program created by NASC to identify outstanding individual student council leaders in high schools. Students who successfully complete the Distinguished Student Leader Program will have demonstrated their personal leadership abilities and met the skills and criteria established by NASC . The program is founded on the principles of NASC and provides broad recognition for the worthiest student leaders. Unlike scholarships or recognitions that have limited numbers of winners, all student council leaders in NASC-member schools who successfully meet the criteria will be recognized by National Student Council and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the parent organization of NASC.

What is the history of the Distinguished Student Leader Program?

National Student Council has historically promoted excellence in student leadership through its conferences, training programs, and resources that advisers can use to help students develop their leadership skills. Today, NASC programs feature both student and adult-led workshops on a variety of leadership skills and topics. Schools throughout the country currently use NASC materials and content in their leadership curricula and student council activities.

Through this program, NASC aims to define a set of skills and knowledge for which students can demonstrate proficiency. NASC does have standards for student councils and advisers—the National Council of Excellence Award, bestowed on student councils that demonstrate evidence of meeting those standards. The Distinguished Student Leader Program provides an opportunity for individual students to demonstrate their personal leadership abilities and recognizes those who successfully meet the standards and criteria.

Why did NASC create the National Student Council Distinguished Student Leader Program?

In 2006, the association adopted standards for student councils and now sponsors the National Council of Excellence Award to recognize student councils that meet those standards. The Distinguished Student Leader Program is based upon standards that align to and support the National Council of Excellence Award standards and becomes the conduit for NASC to shine the spotlight on outstanding young leaders serving their schools and communities.

Who can apply to the program?

The Distinguished Student Leader Program is a service to our NASC affiliate schools. Students eligible to participate must be in grades 9–12 and be on student council, enrolled in a leadership class, or have a leadership role in another school club or team. Students must also have adviser-verified student accounts, and the school’s affiliation with NASC must be current.

It is important to note that schools must be currently affiliated with National Student Council in order for student applicants to ultimately earn the designation. If your school wishes to join or renew, please visit our Membership link.

How do students create an adviser-verified student account?

To create a student account, click the “Create an Account” button at the top of the NASC homepage. Follow the directions on the page to create your own account. Creating an online account has no bearing on membership. Contact your student council adviser with any questions about your student membership.

Students with verified National Honor Society (NHS) accounts may also complete the online application as long as the school has an active NASC council. At the discretion of the NASC adviser, student leaders who are not currently in NASC or NHS may still apply by creating NASC accounts and being verified.

What is the goal of the Distinguished Student Leader Program?

We created the Distinguished Student Leader Program with five core goals in mind. We want to give schools a tool that will not only enhance and improve their efforts to develop student leaders, but one that will challenge students to work for recognition that is based on their abilities and knowledge in the area of leadership. The Distinguished Student Leader Program does this by providing authentic assessment and national recognition. It supports the standards and goals of the National Council of Excellence Award and has the potential to add value to student college and scholarship applications.

How do students become Distinguished Student Leaders?

Students earn national recognition through a structured application process that is part of the Distinguished Student Leader Program. Following the program criteria, students explore the leadership concepts presented in the curriculum and act to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to apply those concepts. Students organize evidence of their work in a portfolio demonstrating that they have met or achieved the required number of indicators in each of the core areas outlined. They will also secure adviser verification upon successful completion of the program. Finally, they write an essay on a predetermined leadership topic, include it with their portfolio, and upload it into the online application.

What is a portfolio, and how do I build one?

A portfolio is a way to organize evidence that you have completed the required activities for your designation as a Distinguished Student Leader. It includes the requisite forms, evidence, and letters of recommendation. For detailed information about portfolios, visit our How to Build Your Portfolio page.

What evidence do I need to supply in my portfolio?

The Distinguished Student Leader Program requires that you collect and create evidence that you have completed the required tasks. For examples and explanations of appropriate evidence, consult the Portfolio Builder.

What will it mean for a student to be recognized as a Distinguished Student Leader?

Students successfully completing the program will not only experience the personal satisfaction of having achieved national recognition, but they will also have demonstrated to others their ability to perform as a leader. For the school and student council, having one or more students recognized is a testament to the strength and success of the student council program in developing and training student leaders. As students prepare for their postsecondary schooling, they can include the achievement of being named a Distinguished Student Leader among their other recognitions and accomplishments on college and scholarship applications.

What do Distinguished Student Leaders receive from National Student Council?

Those who successfully complete the Distinguished Student Leader Program curriculum receive an official letter, certificate, digital badge, and patch from NASC and NASSP. NASSP also provides a press release template that students can use with local media to announce and explain the recognition students have earned. We also encourage schools and student councils to announce and celebrate this achievement with the student body, faculty, administration, school board, and community. NASC even provides tips for public relations.

What is the role of the principal in the Distinguished Student Leader application process?

The primary role of the principal is to give encouragement and support to students as they work to successfully complete the DSL program curriculum. This is an ambitious undertaking for the student, often requiring one to two semesters of effort on their part. NASC also encourages principals to celebrate any students in their schools who are named a National Student Council Distinguished Student Leader.

When is the deadline to submit my application to become a Distinguished Student Leader?

Applications must be submitted online to NASC prior to the student graduating from high school. Otherwise, applications may be submitted at any time during the calendar year.

We challenge student leaders in high schools to strive for Distinguished Student Leader recognition as a part of their continuing growth as leaders.

We wish you all the best as your student leaders accept the challenges of the National Student Council Distinguished Student Leader Program and work to earn the title National Student Council Distinguished Student Leader!