Guadalupe’s student body has a great tradition of citizenship and community, and more so than any other time, this is showcased during the Student Council elections in the Fall. Led by Teri Susoev, Kathy Williams, and myself, we mentor students to be involved in their communities, give voices to their quieter peers, and advocate for those in need in our school community.
Every year, 4th and 5th graders have the opportunity to run for an executive office in the Student Council. The presidency is reserved for 5th graders, while the rest is open to both grade levels. Aside from the president, every other office can be occupied by a pair of students and this is where the strength of many of our students lies. Many of the applicants choose to run in pairs, writing their speech together, creating joint posters and usually having a catchy campaign slogan. They work tirelessly together to create a strong, cohesive image. Many of our offices are usually held by pairs of students.
The speeches are where many of the students shine. We see them in a new light, grown up and assured, sharing a piece of themselves that can get lost in a classroom or on the playground. They make a tough case for the voting body on who to choose. While some elections can become popularity contests, once the speeches have been delivered the elections become more competitive with an evened playing field. Students filter back into their classrooms, submit a digital ballot, and eagerly await the elections results in the five minutes leading up to a Friday afternoon dismissal.
There are tears, heartbreak, and a range of emotions as the results are announced by the principal over the PA system. The candidates are together in the media center while their friends wait for them outside on the playground. Giving the candidates a separate space allows those who have lost time to control their emotions and those who have won time to gather themselves and win with grace. There many hugs, congratulation, a few tears, and a lot of cheering in the media center regardless of victory or loss. This is my favorite part as an educator, to watch kids who have worked hard to recognize the hard work of others, to look beyond winning and losing, and to see how kind children can be to another when they’ve worked towards the same goals. While elections can be contentious, at Guadalupe they are symbolic of how our community works: together.
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