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Student Leadership in Middle School

By Jon Grogan, Middle School History Department Chair and Student Council Advisor

For over a decade, I have worked with amazing student leaders, creating a space where students can showcase their passion and commitment to their peers while leaving a lasting legacy. This school year, the Student Council has taken a different leadership approach. The Harbor Day Student Council, led by Eighth Grade Class President Emery Pelinka and her team, has spent countless hours facilitating traditional events while creating new opportunities for their fellow students. These student leaders have participated in so many events during the school year, including making a March Madness Bracket, serving at a food pantry, speaking at the State of School, and even making Valentine candy buckets for lower school students, all of which have made a positive impact at school. 

Not only is Student Council a way to develop leadership skills, but fifth through eighth grade students are also able to take on leadership skills by joining campus clubs. Students can display their leadership skills in the Latin Club, Chess Club, Spanish Club, Book Club, Mandarin Club, and Kindness Club. These clubs allow students to flourish as leaders in areas they are truly passionate about. Throughout the school year, students make announcements about their club at Middle School Morning Meetings, organize and run club meetings, and create club-based activities for the benefit of their classmates.

Is there a specific recipe to make a good student leader? The basic attributes of a promising student leader include internal motivation, a strong fondness for their school, a tremendous bank of ideas, a passion for working with others, and strong public speaking skills. However, that is not all you need to possess. Here are four things that I found to make a strong leader at Harbor Day School:

  1. Be present and show up for your constituents. It seems simple, but showing up is the biggest step for our student leaders. Being attentive shows respect to your classmates and teachers.
  1. Realize that not all of your ideas will work. Over the years, my classrooms have heard thousands of ideas and probably produced less than one percent of those ideas. That does not mean you had a bad idea; it just means the idea could not be advanced at that particular time.
  1. Know your stakeholders. Who do you need to email? How do you delegate responsibilities? How do you create a positive message to your constituents? These details may be small but are important to maintaining good leadership.
  1. Follow through with tasks both big and small. Follow-through is by far the most important aspect of student leadership. Students who follow through are the leaders who really get things done. Following through is the biggest element to becoming a very successful student leader.
Like any journey, student leaders may have a few bumps along the way. This year’s leadership team has learned from their mishaps and celebrated their accomplishments. Recently, future leaders of the class of 2025 had the opportunity to run for student council. They completed an intent to run form, identified their personal inspirational leaders, emailed a teacher for endorsement, and spoke in front of their class about what leadership looks like at Harbor Day School. We are excited about what our aspiring leaders will accomplish.

Do Great Things!

Harbor Day School

3443 Pacific View Drive
Corona del Mar, CA 92625 Phone<title><script type="mce-text/javascript"> (function(a,e,c,f,g,h,b,d){var k={ak:"984895077",cl:"EfBCCP-Fv3UQ5ZzR1QM"};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[g]||(a[g]=k.ak);b=e.createElement(h);b.async=1;b.src="//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js";d=e.getElementsByTagName(h)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a[f]=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,k,d,null,new Date,e)};a[f]()})(window,document,"_googWcmImpl","_googWcmGet","_googWcmAk","script"); </script><head><body>1-949-640-1410<html></html></body></head><br><br><br>
Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.