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District 54 expands Student Ambassadors to elementary schools

A good role model. A collaborator. A helper. Someone who has integrity. These are just a few of the leadership characteristics identified by District 54’s new elementary school Student Ambassadors during their first training sessions this fall.  

“I am excited to represent the school in a positive way and have a voice,” said Leilani, a sixth grade Lakeview Student Ambassador. “I really want to make the school the best place it can be and make it a sanctuary for all students, even on their hardest days. I can’t wait to set up a positive culture for younger students so they can have a great life here at Lakeview.”

With the success of the seventh and eighth grade Student Ambassadors last year, the district has expanded the program to include third through eighth grade, bringing the number districtwide to more than 600 students. 

Throughout the 2019-20 school year Student Ambassadors from each elementary school and Lincoln Prairie will participate in three leadership training sessions with a District 54 instructional mentor. They will also meet with their school sponsors about Student writing mission statementtwice a month to carry out leadership activities, help with school assemblies, promote kindness and perform acts of service. The Student Ambassadors will shape what the program looks like at their school.

“The energy, excitement and leadership from this group of students has been powerful to witness,” Associate Superintendent Erin Knoll said. “Even as early as 8 years old, we are seeing students excited to create the optimistic, positive, accepting school culture that allows them to succeed academically and personally.”

During their first meetings, the elementary Student Ambassadors have been getting to know one another; reflecting on leadership, key character qualities and the role of the Student Ambassadors; and thinking about ways they can help make their school a better place. 

The Hoover Student Ambassadors said they want to make sure everyone is included, feels happy and listens to one another.  

Instructional Mentor Michelle Felice, who led the Hoover training, asked why listening is key. 

“So we can hear new ideas,” one student said. 

“So we can make others feel important,” another added.  

After the first training Grace, a Hoover fifth grade Student Ambassador, said she is excited to meet new people, collaborate with other students and spread happiness. 

“I’m excited about everything, because even though it’s only the first day of Student Ambassadors it seems like it’s going to be a pretty great year,” said Betselot, a Hoover third grade Student Ambassador.

Zach, a fifth grade Lakeview Student Ambassador, said he plans to be a role model at all times by leading at school, on the playground and outside of school. 

“I’m excited about being a leader to everybody in the school – helping people, making the school a better place and helping with fundraisers,” said Elia, a third grade Link Student Ambassador.

Stephanie Cahoj, who teaches sixth grade at Lakeview and is sponsoring the school’s Student Ambassadors, said she is excited to help build student leadership capacity.

“The Student Ambassador program will also create more of a sense of community within our schools as the different grade levels work together,” she said.