Middle School Student Council is Ready to Make Positive Change
Voting. Elections. Campaign promises for a better tomorrow. It’s hard to turn on the radio or TV without hearing these words repeated over and over again. But while elections across the world seem to forge a divide between their citizens, Severn’s Middle School Student Council elections bring our community closer together. After creating campaign posters and presenting thoughtful speeches to each grade, our newly elected officials are ready to represent the Middle School and make positive change for our community. Join us in congratulating our 2018-2019 Middle School Student Council.
What Does the Election Process Look Like?
Each fall, Middle School History Teacher Ms. Kathleen Donovan encourages any interested 6th, 7th or 8th grader to run. She sends an application along with the campaign schedule to the entire Middle School. In the application, she asks students to consider why they want to run and how their ideas can make a difference. Candidates can then create two campaign posters to hang in the hallways. Ms. Donovan and Middle School Dean of Students Mr. Eric Cole also hold an informal Q&A session to field questions and offer guidelines.
Relevant Campaign Speeches
Each candidate presents a two-minute speech to their respective class prior to voting. Ms. Donovan gives guidance about the qualities of a good campaign speech, but the candidates write their speeches independently. Ms. Donovan is careful to serve as a helpful resource while giving our students the freedom to express their unique ideas. During these speeches, our students demonstrate how well they know our student body. They make suggestions to improve field day or even create new school events to celebrate our diverse family customs. Their speeches are positive, inclusive and action-oriented — inspirational and practical at the same time.Following the speeches, every middle schooler completes an online ballot using a ranking system to vote. Instead of voting for a single candidate for a single position, they rank every candidate from their class. Students with the most votes take the highest office and so on until every position is full.
The Induction Ceremony
After the votes are tallied and candidates are notified of the results, the entire Middle School gathers for an induction ceremony. Each winning candidate prepares a thirty-second acceptance speech and receives a certificate from Ms. Donovan and Middle School Head Mr. Dan Keller. This signifies the official start to Student Council for the year.
Making a Real Difference
Student Council meets every Monday during lunch to discuss issues in the school, create strategies to improve and plan events like movie socials and field day. Because there are new members every year, the group starts by setting internal guidelines for how they will communicate with each other and with the greater community. It’s important to establish these rules early on to make sure that the Council functions properly as a representative body. Ms. Donovan helps our students develop these rules, but subsequent meetings are run by the 8th-grade president.
During meetings, Council members present their own ideas for change, but also the ideas of the community that they represent. Once the group decides on an initiative to move forward with, Ms. Donovan helps them develop a good petition to present to the appropriate administrative office at Severn. Each proposal includes:
What we want to change
Why we want to change it
Reasons why we think it will work
Potential problems along with suggested solutions
Data to back up our claims
Last year they successfully petitioned to install air fresheners in the gym locker rooms. The year before, they worked with Upper School Student Council to petition the dining hall to charge $.25 for water cups thereby reducing the number of cups used and encouraging students to bring reusable water bottles to school. These initiatives represent our students’ commitment to improving student life in our Middle School and the Severn community as a whole.
Leadership in Action
Throughout this entire process, our students learn critical leadership and communication skills. They learn how to talk with a variety of different people in a variety of settings. They learn to value diverse perspectives and how to function as an effective group. And they learn how to take the ideas of many and distill them down into actionable goals. Although Ms. Donovan is present every step of the way, our students take ownership of the Council and are proud of the difference they can make for our school.