Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mrs. Boyd's Class Joins the Democratic Process

When I first came to Mayflower Mill in 2000, I was surprised to learn that this elementary school had a student council.  Of course, I knew that high schools and many middle schools have student councils so that students feel that they have some control in the decision making at their school.  But I’d never heard of an elementary school that elected a student council.

Mayflower’s student council sponsors philanthropic efforts and school spirit days.  Spirit days are themed and allow students to come to school wearing pajamas, sporting a favorite team’s jersey, or even coiffed with crazy hair.  The student council collects food for Food Finders Food Bank and raises money for Riley Children’s Hospital, and each 4th and 5th grade class has two representatives.  Since my class is a combination 4th/5th, I have one 4th grade representative and one 5th grade rep.
Last fall, Kinley decided to run for student council.  Each candidate was required to make a poster and give a speech, and Kinley’s daddy helped her with both since I didn’t think it was fair for the teacher to endorse a specific candidate. 
Incidentally, these two years would have been SO DIFFERENT if I were a single parent or if I had a husband who was not so involved in our children’s day-to-day activities.  If I hadn’t had the option to be uninvolved in Kinley’s homework and other school-related projects, I can’t imagine how these years would have gone.  Either Kinley would have been at a severe disadvantage because I don’t think it’s fair to help her with her homework when none of my other students has the teacher at home.  Or the other students would be at a disadvantage because I’d be forced to help her.  Since neither of these options is ideal, I am so very grateful for Josh.  Here’s the poster they made together.

Kinley worked on her speech with help from Josh and enthusiastically practiced giving it.  When the day came for speeches and elections, she had quite a bit of competition.  Here are some of the other kids’ posters.

Some of Kinley's classmates even went all out and made campaign goodies to pass out - necklaces, candy bars, and even cookies!

With all of this campaigning, having a really strong speech was going to be important.  Here is what she wrote.
You should vote for me because I want to try and make the school a better place.  I’ll try and make people do more recycling, and I’ll try and make a Hawaiian Day.  I’ll also try and make there be plastic recycling and Wear Your Sunglasses to School Day.
I’m qualified because I’ve been First Mate in 3rd grade and I’ve been Class President in 5th grade.  I also help give food to hungry people at my church food pantry.   I also help teach English to people in other countries.  So I have experience in serving people.
I think that if I’m the student council representative I will serve you!  So if you vote for me, you won’t be disappointed.
Kinley makes her speech to her classmates.
Kinley uses visual aids - a grass skirt for Hawaiian Day and a can
of food to represent her work at the church food pantry.

At the bottom of the page, she wrote, “Make more connections,” since her Daddy suggested that she ad lib a bit to connect her life experiences to student council. Personally, I think it's hilarious that Hawaiian Day and Sunglasses Day were major parts of her platform, and her speech also makes me think that we must spend a lot of time in our family emphasizing recycling.  I mean, I'm all about recycling.  Josh hauls heaps of cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard to the recycling facility every month.  But I just didn't realize that Kinley thought recycling was so important.  And, from her speech at least, recycling is the biggest school issue she can think of.  Who knew?

She did a great job of delivering her speech, but so did many of her classmates.  One of them evoked some serious pathos by referring to a child in Riley hospital (wish Josh had thought of that), and one ended in true political advertisement style by saying, “I’m Josh Persin and I approved this message.”  Those gifted kids.  They think of everything. 
In the end it was a close race, and the fourth grade contest even came down to a run-off. Kinley lost the fifth grade race, but I was so proud of her for being a good loser.  

And, of course, for bringing some apparently much-needed attention to the important issues of hula skirts, protective eyewear, and recycling in our elementary school.

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