South O'Brien Elementary student council

The student council at South O’Brien Elementary in Primghar convenes for its weekly meeting in adviser Renae Negus’ classroom. The group of fifth- and sixth-graders have been involved in several events and activities at the school, including the Veterans Day program on Nov. 11 and a food and winter clothing drive that runs until Dec. 11.

PRIMGHAR—From the winter food and clothing drive to the school concession stand, the South O’Brien Elementary Student Council is taking care of business.

The 10-person council — consisting of four fifth-graders and six sixth-graders at the Primghar school — meets once a week in Renae Negus’ classroom to go over the week’s agenda, plan for upcoming events and divvy up responsibilities to council members.

Negus, who is the council’s adviser, said the members are chosen by the students’ teachers, who nominate students they think are outstanding leaders in the classroom.

After they are chosen, council members then elect their own officers: president, vice president and secretary.

Throughout the academic year, the council is in charge of numerous projects.

“They put on a skit during homecoming and had a parade entry during homecoming, so that was a fun week for them,” Negus said.

The council also runs the concession stand at some of the junior high school’s athletic games, since the volleyball and basketball teams play their games in the elementary gymnasium.

“This year, we have them helping us balance the money drawer,” Negus said. “They count money before we start and at the end of the night, which is giving them good practice in trying to figure out how much money we have and then also to see what their profit is each night.”

During the school’s Veterans Day program on Monday, Nov. 11, the council led the Pledge of Allegiance and a presentation on the five U.S. military branches.

Their presentation was one of several upcoming projects the group discussed at its weekly meeting on Nov. 4 while eating lunch they had brought in from the cafeteria.

Student council president, sixth-grader Reese Farquhar, ran the group through its agenda after quickly taking attendance. Her vice president, sixth-grader Austin Negus, gave an update to the rest of the council members to check their e-mail for information he had sent them for the Veterans Day presentation.

Farquhar then transitioned to the next agenda item: the food and winter clothing drive the school will hold Monday-Wednesday, Nov. 18-Dec. 11. The school will collect nonperishable food items as well as hats and mittens to donate to Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc.’s O’Brien County outreach office in Primghar.

Renae Negus asked the council members how they planned on advertising the charity to the rest of the school. A few suggestions they offered included putting up fliers throughout the building and including the donation drive on the school’s daily announcements.

The students also discussed where and how often the donations could be dropped off at the school. They decided students could make donations daily during the drive period as opposed to having everyone make their donation once a week.

Donations were dropped off at Renae Negus’ classroom in the past, but the council members pointed out how that caused a mess. Farquhar agreed to speak with the school’s principal, Michael Morran, about seeing whether a donation site could be set up in the school lobby instead.

The council then briefly spoke about scheduling for when council members would work shifts in the concession stand during the upcoming volleyball and basketball seasons.

Renae Negus then informed the council that Morran had asked the council members to help organize orders of frozen cookie dough that were delivered to the school on Thursday, Nov. 14.

“The elementary students do a fundraiser each year to help support field trips and things of that nature, and one of the items that they sold is frozen cookie dough,” she said.

By leading projects and helping run the school concession stand, the students on the council gain leadership experience and develop their communication skills all while making a positive impact on their school.

This story was originally published in the Nov. 16  edition of The South O'Brien Sun.