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Thursday, May 5, 2016

School elections: Ancient concept

Friday, October 29, 2004

Part 2 of 5

Each year, during the first weeks of school, students have to make some very important decisions.

Who has the best stand on the issues, presents their case the best, or makes the best speech?

The candidates give speeches, organize campaigns, and hit the "stump" or participate in debates just like their adult counterparts. Then, after considering all that information, students get to vote.

What's all the fuss about? It's Student Council elections.

The concept for these innocent child elections predates 386 B.C., but Plato is recognized as the first to use it in an academic setting. The Athenian school he created, which became the pattern for institutions established throughout Greece, existed for more than 900 years before it's abolishment in A.D. 529.

Revisited by many schoolmasters and institutions through history, the idea came into the forefront of American education during the middle 1800's. By the early 1920's most of our school systems were using some form of pupil participation as a basis for teaching responsible citizenship.

The elections today help develop leadership skills, promote a positive school environment, and develop meaningful learning experiences. Students can voice opinions about their school's policies, spirit days, community involvement, and academic happenings: A crucial step in teaching the rights of citizenship to young people.

Kindergarteners learn the concept of making choices and the affects on other people's lives; older students learn the more complex issues in the political process like the reasons for secrecy while voting, awareness of issues, and the value of one vote.

For some older children, and their parents, winning a student council spot has become an important achievement to place on college entrance forms: Books are now available with tips on how to win elections, websites that help in writing campaign slogans, and workshops for high school students on student government responsibilities.

But, every once-in-a-while some students see the elections as a popularity contest, or a way to show off, and lose sight of the purpose of the experience. That is why some schools around the country have changed the election format, making the students that are eligible as canidates recommended by teachers.

Student Council Community Activities

These student politicians help their schools, and fellow students, participate in many civic minded local activities and charities, including:

- Veterans Day Programs

- Christmas In The Park

- Red Ribbon Week

- Local Food Drives

- Clay County Human Shelter

- Riley Children's Hospital

- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

- The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

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