Our school just held Student Council officer elections this week. Classes voted yesterday and we identified our winners by the end of the day.
One thing that struck me throughout the week of campaigning was how CLASSY the kids were. These were 12 and 13 year olds. They wanted to be school President, Vice President, Secretary, Historian and Treasurer. Each one made posters (most decorated them themselves) and they were funny and witty.
NONE called their opponents names. Instead, they focused on the positive: they shared their visions of making our awesome school even better. They wrote speeches. They were nervous wrecks as they recorded them and they did it despite knowing the entire school would see them on the broadcast system. They did it, dreading the fact that by running for office, they left themselves vulnerable to criticism and defeat. I wanted every one of them to win, but of course, that’s not possible. I was excited to announce the winners, but I also dreaded breaking young, hopeful hearts.
The candidates were an eclectic bunch: nerds, athletic nerds, new-to-school kids and popular kids. The popular kids didn’t always win.
Each candidate focused on giving the student body what they wanted. They promised to listen. They shared personal information (“I have two sisters and a dog. I love watching movies and eating ice cream.”) They were so scared, that a few shared how nervous they were giving the speech DURING the speech. One of the candidates sang her entire speech acapella. They read their qualifications and it sounded like a list of Over Achievers Anonymous: Science Fair winners, Eagle Scouts, Straight A students, Star Soccer player, and on and on.
I don’t doubt that most of our American Presidential candidates really want to help America. But I wonder where our election process is going. Billions of dollars are spent on campaigns for an election that has been named “A Race to the Bottom.” Certain candidates have made allusions to gender, sexual body parts and trophy wives. They have mocked each other’s intelligence and looks. They lie and disregard fact-checking. In my social studies class, I wanted to utilize this year’s election in the classroom by taking candidates’ speeches and having students analyze them. To my dismay, I couldn’t do that (in a bipartisan platform, anyway). Must of what was bantered about was X-rated!
As I spoke to the candidates, I expressed how extremely proud of them I was and how I wished that adults could handle their campaigns in the same smart and mature way. They smiled. They knew what I meant.
I really hope that our young students grow up and remain full of enthusiasm and integrity. I have faith that they will.