Monday, February 23, 2015

Leadership as shown by Candy-grams and Collaboration

Allow me to brag a bit about the incredible team that is this year's school Student Council.

The Student Council at my school has been insanely busy lately. I didn't start the year intending to help run the Student Council, but several students approached me in the fall, begging me to be the staff liaison. I've taken the role on before, and I know how much work it takes. I also realize that it is often the students with the fullest schedules that gravitate to student council positions, with grand ideas and large plans but not always the time or ability. Without curbing their enthusiasm, I had to caution them that it is a tenuous and fragile idea of democracy that they represent, and that the powers they have to make changes and start initiatives have limitations.

The team of ten students, representing all the junior/intermediate classes, have accepted the limitations but it has not stopped them from getting involved. In February, the Student Council decided to sell Candy-grams for Valentine's Day as a charity fundraiser (for Plan Canada). Together, we arranged the sales schedule. The response from the student body was overwhelming! Students lined up with large bills in hand to purchase copious amounts of candy for themselves and their peers.

What impressed me was their positive energy and devotion to the task when it came time for the less-glamorous task of wrapping and sorting all of those candy-grams. To give you an idea ... we spent $169.50 in supplies and brought in $414.80, making a $245.30 profit. We sold our candy-grams for 25 cents each (5 for $1). That's a lot of lollipops! We gathered on the first Friday of our two week campaign and stayed until after 5:00 p.m. wrapping. On Wednesday, February 11 (the final day of sales), we stayed until 6:30 p.m. and some students didn't even want to go home when their parents came to collect them because they were determined to finish.

Sorting candy-grams into class piles

Some younger students did not seem to understand the concept of a candy-gram and handed in their slips the day of distribution. I was impressed that our Student Council members were willing to give up the candy-grams they received so that these other students would not go without their candy present.

The week after the Great Candy-gram Distribution, on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, the intermediate representatives of the Student Council were invited to the local high school for a Leadership Conference. The Council members continued to impress me. Some of the junior division members protested the conference, claiming that it wasn't fair for only the Grade 7-8 members to get an invitation. I liked that these students felt empowered enough to object when they perceived injustice. I relayed their objections to the host school. It may not change anything, but our younger council members will definitely get their chance to participate in a couple of years.

I was so proud of the group I brought to the conference. They were models of active leadership. The high school Student Council had arranged several fun activities to get participants to consider topics like teamwork, initiative, trust, and clear communication. During the reflection stage after each event, I was delighted to see how often it was the students from my school that raised their hands to speak and share. Four feeder schools attended the conference and although I'm obviously biased, I felt that our students shone brightest. (I think it also helped that their staff liaison participated in the given tasks - is it coincidence that the two supervising teachers that did not sit on the sidelines checking their phones were both teacher-librarians? Interesting observation!)

Playing around with the high school mascot

Trying to find the link - blindfolded!

Pick up bean bags, avoid pylons, only with directions from the team!

I took dozens and dozens of photos, and I'm sure my students got a bit exasperated with me, but I couldn't help it - I was (and still am) so proud of the initiative, hard work, collaboration, and joy that my Student Council demonstrates time and again. Well done Nathan, Mandy, Nicole, Nancy, Shukri, Shamrita, Hamrish, Brandon, Aaron and Kaavia!

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