Students taking leadership to new levels at middle school

Students taking leadership to new levels at middle school
Posted on 10/27/2017

Students empowered to lead other students came about at Lynden Middle School, says Cyndi Selcho, assistant principal, simply by having the time to devote to the practice.

The new school government/ASB class at LMS has put not only the five school ASB officers—two from eighth grade and three from seventh grade—with another 23 interested students to go over leadership concepts, but also to put those concepts into practice on campus.

“Our focus has been to create a more community minded environment here at Lynden Middle by having time allotted for the kids to plan, execute and promote events they want to have on campus,” says teacher Amanda Bode. “The nice thing is they don’t have to choose between being a leader on campus and playing a sport or being a leader and being part of a club. They have time in their schedule to plan and execute it.”

The group kicked off their student-led effort one week into school with a massive pep assembly. All 20-plus students were involved in the planning, promotion and theming of the event, designed to introduce activities and efforts throughout the school.

“It is all student-generated ideas,” Selcho says. “It is about a sense of belonging and a connection to our school to help promote a positive environment.” In that vein Lion Pride has turned into more than just a T-shirt slogan or clever hashtag at Lynden Middle School (although, it is also that). The phrase has become emblazoned across shirts and in posters around the school, but beyond a simple rallying cry, the phrase has meaning that student leaders continue to convey as they push forward into the meat of the school year.

With PRIDE serving as an acronym for positivity, respect, involvement, dependability and effort, the #LionPride theme will work itself out across the entire school year and in many different ways, from student-led assemblies to classroom instruction. 

Bode says the students have plans for each letter throughout the year, from a schoolwide activity to classroom project. The students will spend two months focused on each word in the acronym, taking positivity first. The student government class of 28 students developed a plan to encourage anonymous compliments, specific to each student in the school, an effort to promote a positive environment.

“It is really a neat idea and they have additional things they want to implement,” Bode says. “It is great to see how these kids run with these ideas. They want people to feel like they belong and that their peers matter. They want people to come to school and feel safe. Those were their own words. It is really cool to see that drive them.”

It goes beyond Lion Pride, though. A current school fundraiser that helps fund activities and sports equipment was presented by the ASB president. “She got up and explained to the students why we have activities and sports equipment and how it helps them feel connected to the school,” Selcho says. To have it come from a student and not an adult puts a new spin on the information. It is the same for the group of students pushing a coin drive for hurricane relief. In just two weeks the group raised $500 in coins alone, promoting the effort and researching where to send the money.

“The class is putting a focus on empowering them to be better leaders,” Bode says. “We talked about traits of leaders. The discussions they have are encouraging to see.”

Having time during the day for the students to explore what it means to be part of ASB government and how to make a real difference in the lives of the students on campus has given the students a real chance to understand leadership concepts as they plan activities and events.

From the kick-off assembly to fundraising, the group has also introduced Wacky Wednesday every other week—the first was Twin Day and Green and Gold Day was next—and a program that has students nominating other students for positive things in the community and on campus.

“That was all them,” Bode says. “They were sitting there saying kids do these really cool things. It was a moving moment as a teacher. They get it; they are so passionate. Their hearts are so big and they desire to lead.”

Selcho sums it up: “They believe in what they’re doing.”