By Agustina Lacarte, head of Primary Years Programme
Student Council amplifies students’ voices, creates a space for student organization and forms partnerships with students at the forefront. More than just an election campaign, this initiative intends to encourage specific skills, such as participation, mediation, negotiation and leadership.
This term, Class 5 students have been learning about “”How we organize Ourselves” to understand that societies govern in diverse ways to create decision making structures. Students learnt about different types of governments and how they function and also about the rights and responsibilities that politicians and citizens have in society. As an additional project, they decided to take action themselves by organising their voices and electing the first Student Council to represent the whole of Primary in order to improve St. Peter’s community.
The process was democratic. A group of candidates ran their campaign for a few weeks and, although it was an extraordinary experience, it was hard work! Students running for presidency listened to the primary students’ needs in order to prepare for their campaign, they gave public speeches in the theatre, had to design their own flyers, put up the posters around the school and lead their teams. “At some points of my campaign, I felt nervous and stressed but also felt happy because I thought that it was a great opportunity in my life”, commented Luca Mata, President of St Peter’s Student Council.
Creating a Student Council resulted in a lot of work for the students and also for the Year 5 teachers who supported the children in the process. As Luca Mata said, “leadership and responsibility” are important if you want to give students the opportunity to talk about the issues that they care for with someone who shares the same perspective and having a voice that results in change. With the slogan “A vote is a vote for freedom”, the President of the Student Council insisted on the fact that all primary students should be able to participate in the decisions that take place in school.
One of the things that Luca campaigned for was change. He wanted to “make this school a better place” not only by changing or modifying what is being taught but by having a botanical garden and a group of volunteers to take care of it. Some of the things that both, the President and Vice-president, Sienna Rizza, want to implement in the next school term is “to have a class pet, get tastier sandwiches and have more material to play with in the playground.”
Student council debate
Not long ago, when students and teachers were organizing the campaign, I came across this quote: “What you do makes a difference, the only thing you have to decide is what kind of difference you want to make.” Great things happen when students are given a voice and the opportunity to take action. And this is how great leaders are formed.