Patton Junior High School’s Student Council is bringing the “Leader in Me” program to the forefront of everyday life.

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Patton Junior High School’s Student Council is bringing the “Leader in Me” program to the forefront of everyday life with three new additions to the school — banners, a wall of mirrors and a vending machine.

“This was a pretty ambitious project for (the students) to undertake,” said Aaron Hall, Stuco faculty adviser and Patton music teacher. “A lot of steps were involved in it to get it through to completion, so it is really a great sense of satisfaction to see it all come together.”

The project was set into motion last schoolyear and completed over the summer. Costs were split with the district, and the students raised their half of the money through school dances and Valentine’s Day candy grams.

“The ideas for the banners and vending machine came out of my Stuco/superintendent luncheon in the spring. Each year, I host the three elementary schools’ and junior high’s Stucos for lunch with me at the central office,” said Keith Mispagel, Unified School District 207 superintendent. “I use this as a leadership activity because I believe our student councils are the leaders of the students at the schools.

“During the luncheon, I ask them about challenges, highlights, recommended changes and wants and needs for their schools. I then have them submit proposals answering who, what, when, where, why and how much for their projects and funding request for the district,” he said. “I want the students to take pride in their school and their surroundings.”

According to the official “Leader in Me” website, “‘Leader in Me’ is an evidence-based, comprehensive school improvement model — developed in partnership with educators — that empowers students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

One aspect of the “Leader in Me” program is the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” which is what the banners represent.

“The (banners), we were pretty sure those would be motivational to the students, helping them remember what the habits are,” said Patton eighth-grader Cristi Scillieri, who served as a seventh-grade representative on the 2018-19 Student Council and is running for eighth-grade representative this year. “Seeing them in the morning when they walk in, they can say, ‘Oh, I can use that step today.’”

Along with the seven habits — be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; synergize; and sharpen the saw — an eighth habit was added to the row of banners, “find your voice.”

“‘Find your voice’ was added to Patton’s ‘Leader in Me’ program to help students think about who they are and what they stand for now, and what they want to become as they bridge into adulthood,” Hall said. “It is kind of a culmination of all of the habits put into action to affect and shape their future.”

In the same hallway, a once empty wall is now filled with mirrors of varying sizes that were donated by students and parents.

“(The mirrors) are more for the seventh-graders because they’re new to the school, and they’re not used to having to go to different classes and they’re more nervous, so they get to look at themselves and say, ‘Hey, this is me and this is what I need to do for the day,’” said Patton eighth-grader Cashel Lex, who served as a seventh-grade representative on the 2018-19 Student Council and is running for Stuco president this year. “It is important for them to see their future in themselves. Look inside yourself and see who is the leader in you.”

The vending machine sits in the Tiger Pit and will be stocked with pencils, planners, gyms shirts and other things students may need throughout the school day.

“We want the vending machine to make the students’ lives easier,” Lex said.

While the 2019-20 Student Council, which will have representative elections Sept. 13, will initially take the responsibility of stocking the vending machine, Lex said they hope to elect an action team within the council to keep it stocked.

“I hope they gain the responsibility of filling it and being responsible with the money that is gained from it because we’ll use that toward the school,” he said.

Hall said the vending machine will be a learning experience for the students.

“Everything that is involved in that, which is going to be a lot, they’re going to have to tackle that. Basically, they’re making a small business out of it within the school,” Hall said. “It is going to be great for people that are interested in learning about business and inventory, what sells and what doesn’t and counting profits.”

Items are expected to cost between 75 cents and $5.

Students had different reasons why they like being on Student Council.

“I like being able to have an input in the school and changing it,” said Patton eighth-grader Melanie Libby, who served as seventh-grade representative during the 2018-19 schoolyear and is running for eighth-grade representative this year.

“I like being able to help with the dances because I know that is a big part for every student who comes here,” Scillieri said.

“I like helping the school,” Lex said. “That that comes first, helping the students’ needs, helping what they need instead of what you need, is great.”