Alcona elementary students learning leadership skills

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Fifth-graders at Alcona Elementary School are members of the elementary student leadership group. The initiative of the group is to help the students transition into being a member of the student council in middle school and high school.

LINCOLN — The elementary student leadership group is a student leadership group for fifth-graders at Alcona Elementary School to help them transition into being a member of student council in middle school and high school.

Teachers Brianna Griffiths and Ali Yokom helped put the group together because they thought the communication with the students would be a great fit.

Griffith said any student who wanted to join had to fill out an application and get teacher recommendations.

“We had 10 students that turned in the final assessment and the application and we took all of them and just said ‘OK, we’re going to start’ so we came up with student leadership team because it’s not really a student council and we wanted it to be a little bit different than that anyway,” she said.

The group went to a retreat in Frankenmuth for a day and learned what it is like to be a student leadership group. Griffith said the group came back and wrote a pledge and mission statement. The group has meetings almost every Friday.

“We put together a candy cane drive so that next year’s students can go on the retreat that we went on because we were lucky enough to have donations for it this year,” Griffiths said. “We wanted to make sure the group could go again next year because it was a good time and the students learned a lot so that was important.”

The students also have made videos about the expectations of the school and isarein the process of setting up a few different things. The students want to do an art mural and Griffiths said they’re trying to set that up and see what it might look like.

Griffiths said the group also is looking into doing something for teacher appreciation week and just little activities throughout the school year.

“We also have daily jobs, which right now are the Pledge of Allegiance and raising and lowering the flag each day,” Griffiths said. “We have talked about helping out with recycling as well. We split them up into little groups so there are five groups. They just work together really well.”

Principal Tim Lee said the teachers are taking initiative to promote awareness of a leadership role and have a more positive school climate.

“They’re taking on different tasks and they have some pride while the tasks,” Lee said. “They’re taking on the morning announcements so they’re able to build those skills and they’re taking and raising the flag every day so they’re learning those pieces as well.”

Lee said the students are looking at different ways to celebrate school spirit and do research to help run a coin drive at the school.

“They’ve been doing very well in terms of just promoting school spirit and building a sense of community,” he said.

The group is in the beginning stages and the teachers are thinking about different ways to have the students help them. Lee said the kids have come forward and helped out the younger students in classes.

“If a teacher has initiatives that they want to start, they think it would have more of an impact coming from the kids, so they can work with those kids to get more initiatives started,” he said.

Lee said the group is similar to a high school student council and thinks it would be wonderful to be able to maintain the group for upcoming years and see it grow.

“It gives kids an opportunity at the elementary level to participate in extracurriculars and build their resume and portfolios early on as opposed to waiting until middle school because there are a lot of great student leaders in our building now so they have an opportunity to fulfill that goal,” Lee said. “I’m really glad it was started and I really anticipate the teachers that took the initiative to start it and to follow through with it.”

Lee said a foundation is set forth for the group to be a consistent group for years to come.

Superintendent Dan O’Connor said the school is working daily to teach students the foundational content skills in subject areas and any opportunity the school can insert students into opportunity for collaboration, creativity, and innovation is welcomed.

“This opportunity requires those skills and more and feel the leadership experience will be one that will help them as they transition to not only middle and high school leaders but beyond,” O’Connor said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.