Helena Intermediate restarts student council

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

HELENA – After not having a student council since the COVID-19 pandemic, three teachers at Helena Intermediate School successfully reintroduced the HIS student council during the 2023-2024 school year and plan to continue the tradition next year.

The last time that HIS had a student council was the 2019-2020 school year. But when the effects of COVID-19 sent shock waves through the world of education, the HIS Student Council fell to the wayside.

This past school year, HIS Principal Sasha Baker approached three teachers and asked them to restart the student council. According to one of those teachers, Sarah Hopper, the idea arose due to popular demand from the students.

“Each year, many kids asked about student council,” Hopper said. “I had a student last year who begged for us to start it again at HIS because he had been waiting on student council all three of his years at HIS. He ended up being elected to the SGA in middle school, but never had the chance to be on our student council.”

The three teacher sponsors included third grade teacher Renee Scott, fourth grade teacher Bridgett Cox and fifth grade teacher Sarah Hopper.

“We are all talented in different ways and work together very well to pool our strengths and make it a fun, yet rewarding leadership experience for our students,” Hopper said.

Together, the three sat down to brainstorm ideas for the new student council with a blend of old traditions and new ideas.

They decided to keep the election structure the same with each homeroom class at HIS electing one representative to serve on the student council. Election guidelines were shared with the teachers and students had to abide by a set of rules to be considered. After the students gave speeches to their peers, teachers held elections according to their discretion.

Once the new HIS Student Council was formed, the students started the school year with a new tradition, a food drive called “Pack the Principal’s Office.” The idea behind the service project was to donate so many cans of food that Principal Baker couldn’t even step in to her office.

Because of this food drive, HIS was able to donate more than 1,000 canned goods to Alabama Childhood Food Solutions.

“The kids absolutely loved it, and the community really stepped up and helped out,” Hopper said. “(Alabama Childhood Food Solutions) were so overwhelmed with the generosity of the Helena Intermediate community.”

In addition to service projects, the HIS Student Council also raised money to donate to the school.

“We also held a fundraiser to raise money for projects around our school,” Hopper said. “We wanted to give back and help make HIS even better than what it already is.”

The student council partnered with a local freeze dried candy business, The Fro Co. After raising funds by selling candy to the community, the students created a survey to gather ideas for how to spend the money and a small group of council representatives presented these findings to the principal.

“This fundraiser was bigger than we could have ever imagined,” Hopper said. “The student council members did a fantastic job selling to their classmates and in the community. It was a huge success and also made a positive impact on one of our favorite local businesses.”

Beyond these large projects, the student council also assisted with many events at HIS and even hosted a few of their own. On career day, the students greeted guests and escorted them to their places. Council members also served as tour guides when second grade students from Helena Elementary School came to HIS.

One example of an event hosted by the HIS Student Council was an apple bar for Teacher Appreciation Week.

“The student council members personally invited the teachers to make an apple with toppings as a thank you for their hard work,” Hopper said.

Looking back on the school year, Hopper shared that she is encouraged by what the HIS Student Council was able to accomplish.

“Seeing these students step up and be leaders in their classrooms, our school and even our community has been so special and very rewarding,” Hopper said. “We are hoping to make next year even better.”

Next school year, the student council plans to improve upon several of the same events and introduce new additions such as a talent show and hallway Christmas tree trail. The students will be responsible for planning, advertising and managing these events which relates back to the mission of the student council to grow the students as leaders.

“Our goal is to provide opportunities for our entire student body while our student council takes the role of leadership to make these opportunities a success,” Hopper said.

For the next school year, the teachers are hoping to host student council elections in August which gives any interested students a few months to practice their speeches and decide on their campaign slogans.

Those interested in learning more about Helena Elementary School can visit Shelbyed.k12.al.us/o/his.

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