Making friends in middle school can sometimes be awkward. Enter the ASU Prep Digital Middle School Student Council, recently formed to make things a little easier.
Social studies teacher April Hale saw a need for students to make connections with their peers, so after careful thought and with the support of Principal Toya Abrams, she started the Middle School Student Council. The initial members came from a defunct camaraderie club, which was lucky in that they already shared the similar goal of friendship. Ms. Hale also invited some of her current and former students who she knew to be outgoing and eager to participate.
Ms. Hale started the initial meetings with songs about friendship and icebreaker activities. She explains, “It’s really important to me that it’s a fun, safe place for students to be themselves. I want the students to share their ideas. I want it to be a safe place to brainstorm.”
And brainstorm they did. The students spent the first couple meetings determining the Student Council’s mission statement and set of values.
“I want the students’ perspective. It is important to me that the students create their own vision and then find a way to achieve it. The whole purpose is to meet their needs. Student Council is driven by the kids. It is their ideas, their goals, their vision.”
The following is what this group of about twenty-five dynamic students came up with.
ASU Prep Digital Middle School Student Council works to make our school a place where every student feels welcome and included. We encourage students to make friends, help others, and support the school. Our core values are Learning, Community, Kindness, and Leadership.
What Student Council Members Are Saying
The involved students are giddy with pride when discussing how successfully the Student Council is meeting these goals so far.
Elana “Laney” Woodward says that Student Council “includes students in their own government to prepare them for the real world” and supports students fit for leadership roles, giving them confidence. When asked about her own future plans, she happily asserts, “Definitely a leadership role.”
Zinnelyse “Zinnie” Grey agrees that she too has learned about leadership, especially maintaining balance: “We have to keep the goals of school in mind, introduce our own ideas but also build on others’.” Her experience has inspired her to consider pioneering another new club, one that will attract students with less mainstream interests.
Hayden Hansen says he has not always participated in class, but this year he’s been turning on his mic and volunteering to read in his online classes, which is why he says Ms. Hale suggested he join Student Council. He feels comfortable participating in Student Council and says, “It might just help me be less shy for big events.”
Katheryn Mantey-King has a unique perspective about Student Council, explaining, “It prepares you for dealing with people who are maybe leading or taking charge, or maybe you can be that person who leads and takes charge.” In either role, working in a group and dealing with conflict helps teach compromise.
What’s on the Agenda
Sponsor Ms. Hale says, “I want to provide an environment for my students going forward, where they can feel connected to their peers at ASU Prep Digital. To know they’re part of a community.”
That sense of community and connectedness is clear within the Student Council. And now with their mission statement guiding them, they’re extending their vision to the rest of the student body. Their first major success at bringing together students from their online middle school was hosting “Forks Up Friendship,” an online social event with ten breakout rooms based on popular interests gleaned from an anonymous interest form distributed to ASU Prep Digital Middle School students. The event gained such great participation and feedback, the Student Council will host another one May 18.