Student Council Leaders in the Lower School

For many, student councils and class representatives are typically associated with middle or upper schools. At Oak Knoll, this excellent opportunity to serve others and learn how to lead is available as early as grade 4. And what’s more, the Oak Knoll Lower School Student Council places a high emphasis on inclusivity.

As Student Council Faculty Advisor and Lower School Assistant Division Head Megan Watkins explains, “We hope student council is a way to teach the younger students how to be supportive of each other. Ultimately, there will be students who run and do not get elected. That’s disappointing. But our emphasis is on everyone playing a role in governance. There can only be one elected, but everyone can brainstorm ideas and suggest activities with their class representative and Executive Council.”

The Council also emphasizes inclusivity in the activities, events, or improvements they recommend to the administration. For example, every Wednesday is frozen yogurt day in the dining hall. The Student Council recommended adding a periodic “toppings” day to jazz things up a bit. That led into an earnest conversation about who might be excluded due to allergies, braces, and sugar issues, followed by asking how council members can make sure there are options for everyone.

The Executive Council is also responsible for organizing and planning the agenda for assemblies which they often lead, such as a recent welcome assembly for the Mission Effectiveness Committee (MEC) that spent three days on campus in early April.

Students’ expectations are set regarding what the meaning of running for a position of leadership symbolizes. As Watkins explains, “They know it is not a popularity contest on both sides of the ballet box. Voters are asked to pick the person they think would be most suitable to serve the class, and candidates are asked to think seriously about being responsible to all the voters and, if elected, making sure they are proactive in pursuing their fellow classmates’ ideas and opinions.”

“I wanted to be part of the Student Council to model leadership for the younger kids who look up to me,” said Christopher D. ’29, Student Council President.

Ellie A. ’29, a grade 6 Homeroom Representative said, “I like how everyone on Student Council communicates well, and once we have all talked and worked together, we grow friendships.”

Elections are held for the Executive Council in the spring for terms to begin the following school year. Homeroom reps are elected at the beginning of each school year. While there are only homeroom reps in grades 4-6, and only grade 6 students can run for Executive Council, each year grade 3 students experience the excitement of an election as they vote on the candidates for Executive Council who will represent them when they rise to fourth grade in the new school year.

To run for Executive Council, students prepare a one-minute speech that they deliver to grades 3-5 in the spring. Homeroom reps deliver their short speeches just to their homerooms during the election process each fall. Elections are private and students are taught how important that privacy is in ensuring the dignity of those not elected.

Lower Student Student Council is just one symbol of the way Oak Knoll fosters leadership skills — either with a capital L or a lowercase l.