Leadership opportunities in middle school for students aren’t just in traditional student government.
Consultant Diana Wahle has been working with developmental assets in the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union in Vermont, and the council builds on those.
“Kids feel a sense of empowerment having a voice in the school,” said Herve Pelletier, PCS principal. “It’s all part of having a positive school culture. The council members serve as liaisons between Voice4Change and the middle school advisories.”
When students join the council, they complete a two day summer workshop at the School for International Training conducted by Dr. Kenneth Williams. Smaller session are conducted during the school year, focusing on diversity, bullying, tolerance and being active bystanders.
They also self fund a trip to Montpelier so they can learn about state government. They hold burrito sales every fall during the West Hill cyclo-cross races.
“Ideally, we coordinate our trip with Rep. Mike Mrowicki,” Pelletier said. “He meets us at the statehouse, and the students get a personalized, insiders’ tour. Here in Vermont, unlike anywhere else, they can walk right into the statehouse, the people’s house. Mike talks about how things work. The kids know him, and he takes us where the regular tours don’t go.”
“Students learn about civic engagement,” continued Pelletier. “They see what’s possible for them as young adults. They get a flavor of how democracy works and learn how to participate in it. Mike brings the eighth grade pages over, and some of our students become interested in applying to be a page.”