On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Clinton School in Maplewood was not only host to polling booths where registered voters cast their ballots for township, county and state elections. Clinton students were also busy electing their student government officers for 2011-2012.
An experienced and effective body, Clinton’s student government has been an important part of this elementary school for many years. Under the guidance of Lindy Rollo, Clinton’s social worker, the student government consists of four fifth grade officers (President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary) and two class representatives from each fourth and fifth grade class. The group meets regularly and tackles topics ranging from recess to fitness to bullying.
A few years back the Clinton School student government was responsible for successfully lobbying the school district to draft a policy that would let fifth grade students throughout the district ride their bikes to school, with each school’s permission. At Clinton, this milestone was celebrated with the PTA purchase of bike racks.
This morning, the six candidates for each of the officer positions delivered speeches to an auditorium full of their peers. A confident, intelligent, and diverse group, they were greeted with supportive applause both as they took the podium and as they walked away.
Infused with vision, passion, and humor, the speeches were all written with a keen sense of the issues important to elementary school students. There were many mentions of 4-square balls, recess clubs, and school lunch selections, but an equal amount of time was devoted to ideas about mentoring younger students, implementing recycling initiatives, and ensuring that every student’s voice will be met with respect and an open mind.
Votes will be tallied and before the dismissal bell rings, the new officers will be announced. It’s quite clear, however, that every single one of them is already a winner.