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The City Journals

Silver Mesa Student Council leads fun, service-oriented activities to spread kindness, lift spirits

Mar 15, 2021 02:02PM ● By Julie Slama

Silver Mesa student council members organized a day each week to donate a canned good for the right to wear a hat to school as a way to keep school fun and be kind and serve the community throughout the year. (Janae Powell/Silver Mesa Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

This Thursday is Hats Off Day at Silver Mesa Elementary. Next Thursday is too. So was last Thursday.

Every Thursday this school year, Silver Mesa students can wear a hat—and bring a can of food to donate to the Utah Food Bank.

It’s an idea that the school’s Student Council came up with to help in their community and provide their peers with something fun and positive they can do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our student council is creatively coming up with ways to encourage students to stay positive during COVID,” said school education specialist and behavior coordinator Janae Powell. “It supports our school theme, ‘Kindness is Cool,’ and lets them support the community during this time when many can use an uplifting hand.”

Student council member Rush Larsen has brought in diced tomatoes to put in the Utah Food Bank barrels in the multipurpose room.

“We’ve had a tradition where kids get to pay 50 cents to wear hats,” said the fifth-grader. “We wanted to still let kids wear them, but we thought this was a better way.”

His classmate and fellow student council member Lucas Featherstone added: “It’s an important time to help; a lot of homeless have really been hit hard.”

They carried the year-long approach as they redesigned the look of spirit week to spirit days. Spirit days, Powell said, allows students as well as faculty and staff to have a little fun and is designed to lift their outlook to what some educators are saying has been a difficult school year.

Fifth-grade student council member Alexander Gonzales said spirit days are suggested, voted upon and then shared with the student body to encourage everybody to participate. This year, the themes are getting creative.

“We hold our meetings socially distanced around a meeting room, and our ideas are different because we can’t do something like moustache day so instead, we had unibrow day and crazy mask day,” he said. “We’re trying to find fun ways during COVID-19 to provide hope. We want to spice things up a little.”

Rush said in the past they’ve had days where they have dressed up like superheroes or Harry Potter characters.

“I love spirit days. They’re so much fun and it’s fun to see how everybody dresses up,” he said.

Fifth-grader Evelyn Jensen is excited about some of the activities she and the Council has led their peers around their kindness theme. For example, they have written thank-you letters to people who have treated them kindly and have placed notes in a box of classmates they see who are doing “kind stuff.”

“When I’ve seen someone inviting a kid sitting alone to play at recess or helping someone with their work, I can write a note and put it in the box; all the teachers have boxes in their rooms,” she said. “On Mondays, our principal gives them a shout out on the announcements. It makes people happy when they get their name shouted out and it keeps our school safe and kind. I like it because I always help anyone I can.”

Rush said that they also give students a different challenge every month. One month it was to “write a kindness thank-you card. I wrote it to my brother. He is always the best friend to me he can be.”

Lucas thanked his supportive family: “They’re always nice to me and encouraging me.”

Alexander wrote his letter to his mother.

“She’s a single mom as my dad is in Mexico; she takes care of me, makes sure I’m healthy and active,” he said. “I like that we’re doing these activities during a time like this. It shows us that normal people can make a big change in the way they see things in their own lives, and they can make a change in someone else’s lives.”