Lower School Student Council: Mission-Driven, Student-Led
Guest article by Lower School Learning Specialist and Student Council Advisor Mrs. Lisa Ellis
The Lower School Student Council provides opportunities for children in grades 2-5 to pursue excellence in character, to marshal the courage to lead, and develop a lasting desire to serve. Every semester two representatives from each class are elected to Student Council. Once elected, members work together to choose and implement a service-learning project to support our global or local communities. Student Council is an example of student-driven, project-based learning that develops respect, responsibility, cooperation, and citizenship while empowering our students to make a positive difference in the community.
Development, Implementation, and Reflection
Step #1 What Needs or Opportunities Exist?
In this first step toward choosing the service learning project, student council members brainstorm and share ideas about needs they see in the community. As moderators, we challenge every member to be spontaneous, creative and take risks, but leave the final decision making to the students. The council then votes to narrow down their ideas and share with their individual classes for feedback. The representatives use their classmates’ responses for a final vote on which organization/charity to support as a school community.
Step #2 What are Some Solutions and How Can We Plan?
At this point, Student Council researches to identify the specific needs of their chosen organization and generate workable solutions they can realistically achieve. The process of taking big ideas and narrowing focus teaches our students how to think critically about problem-solving in the real world. From here they work together to develop an action plan including a list of tasks to be done, student responsibilities, and a timeline.
Step #3 Time for Action
The students inform the school community about their designated project through classroom updates, school assemblies, and morning announcements along with posters and flyers. The project is set in motion! Past projects include:
World Wildlife Foundation The students raised money by holding a dress down day to benefit the Adopt-an-Animal program whose mission is to preserve the planet and protect its animals. With the donations, we as a school adopted six animals: a seal, a penguin, a koala bear, a giraffe, a panda, and a beluga whale.
Save the Earth The students did small actions at home and at school to reduce their carbon footprint and fight climate change. The students exceeded their goal by 110% with a total of 496 actions and 245,204 saved pounds of CO2!
Light House Shelter The students held a residence needs drive and hosted a “Week of Giving”. The students in each grade were asked to donate specific items or a gift card. The week concluded with a dress down day with all proceeds donated to the shelter. The student council reps visited the Light House and delivered boxes upon boxes of much-needed supplies, gift cards, and over $300 in donations.
B.A.R.C.S The student council held a Lemonade Sale and raised over $300 for the Baltimore Area Rescue Center and Shelter.
Step#5 Reflection and Celebration
During our final meeting, we celebrate a job well done and reflect using a “What? So What? Now What?” thinking routine:
What? “What have we accomplished. What have we learned?"
So what? "What difference does/did it make, why should we do it, how is it important, how do we feel about it?"
Now what? These questions ask, "what’s next, where do we go from here, what has this prepared us for?"
Leadership With Purpose
This program is just one example of how we teach character and leadership skills every day in the Lower School. Student council provides our students an authentic leadership experience working toward something they truly care about. They look outside of themselves to serve the needs of the larger community while learning basic leadership techniques and group dynamics. Our student council members dream big, make actionable goals and reflect on the outcomes of their work. That’s leadership with purpose.
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