Students learn leadership lessons

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pelham’s Feb. 1 City Council meeting drew a large crowd — of mostly very small people.

Valley Intermediate School’s Student Council representatives from third, fourth and fifth grades, along with Student Council Adviser Cynthia Thornburg, Principal Dana Payne and Assistant Principal Debbie Horton, attended to make a presentation to Pelham Mayor Don Murphy and the City Council.

To thank the city leaders for funds donated to their school, each student council rep crafted delightful letters to the mayor and each member of the City Council.

VIS fourth-grader Grayson Stewart included his artistic rendering of his school along with a message.

“Thank you for investing in the future of the children of Valley Intermediate and for making Pelham schools a fun place to go with great teachers,” Stewart said.

A gratitude banner was also presented to the mayor and council. The city leaders each addressed the students. Councilmember Karyl Rice challenged these students to “strive to be the best.” The city leaders’ attention thrilled the students, who were looking very professional in their student council white and black attire.

Thornburg has the students wearing white and black when they are on official student council business.

Principal Dana “The city donation allowed us to purchase a cart of mobile laptop computers with a router,” Payne said.

These computers are used in classrooms throughout the school so that the students can be in their classrooms researching information via the internet or using supplemental online education materials.

Valley Intermediate teaches Pelham’s third, fourth and fifth graders important lessons through student leadership. Expressing gratitude for their school’s gift is the beginning of understanding the servant nature of leadership.

My oldest daughter was a fifth grader when VIS opened. I wondered if the school would manage to stay open when her class went on to the middle school. From that very first year, VIS students were given incredible leadership opportunities as they began establishing this school’s traditions.

Those first fifth graders began the tradition of the school’s talent show and held a contest that allowed one of the students to be the school’s flag designer. A tradition began that continues today of students as leaders and contributors in their school and in our community.

At VIS, students learn that leadership is about service and hard work. Valley Intermediate is living up to its motto, “Molding the learners of today into the leaders of tomorrow.”

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at