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Parkway Students Get Applied Lessons in Elections With Return of Student Council

Heather Martin, Thad Evans, Rebekah Farthing, Magali Turner, Katie Hanna, and Stephen Schmal.  These five students were the 7th grade candidates for Student Council, and, as noted in the article, Martin and Schmal are faculty advisors for the Council.
Seventh graders Heather Martin, Thad Evans, Rebekah Farthing, Magali Turner, Katie Hanna, and Stephen Schmal (from left to right) stand in between faculty advisors for the Student Council Heather Martin and Stephen Schmal.

If today’s political campaigns leave you yearning for a taste of a purer election process, there’s encouragement to be found in the Student Council elections at Parkway School. After a hiatus in recent years, Parkway is bringing back a Student Council for grades 6-8 and the first set of elections took place this week under the guidance of Heather Martin, middle school exceptional children teacher, and Stephen Schmal, middle school math and science teacher.

Rebekah Farthing
Rebekah Farthing

While no filing fees were involved, candidates did have to complete an application packet with seven personal reflection questions and were asked to furnish two teacher recommendations. They also needed to obtain parent/guardian permission to run and had to prepare a campaign poster. “The application process is quite thorough,” noted Martin. “It might even have scared off a few people.”

That very thorough application process yielded a total of 24 candidates in fifth, sixth, and seventh grades who ran for 15 positions on the 2015-2016 Parkway Middle School Student Council. The fifth grade had 11 candidates for six representatives, sixth grade had eight candidates for six representatives, and seventh grade had five candidates from which to select three representatives. The 15 winning candidates then select students to fill the officer positions of president, vice-presidents, secretary, publicity coordinator, activities coordinator, and Parkway spirit coordinator.

Candidates wrote and delivered speeches – limited to two minutes – to their grade level peers in the days preceding the election on Thursday. Among the seventh grade candidates, there were advocates for more student clubs, for an incentive system for good character and behavior, and for additional service projects ranging from planting trees and clean up efforts to fundraising for people in need.

Thad Evans
Thad Evans

For an added touch of election authenticity, the local Board of Elections shared their official voting booths with Parkway for students to cast their votes.

Parkway’s successful efforts to reactivate a student council on campus have already been recognized by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) Student Leadership Institute (SLI) Committee. Parkway’s Student Council team is one of 24 selected from across the state to attend the 2015 Student Leadership Institute. The Institute will offer the team a program focused on Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, a book that offers guidance in leadership for middle and high school students.

Parkway School serves students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and has a current enrollment of approximately 511 students. Students at Parkway exceed state expectations for academic growth and achieve above average proficiency in reading, mathematics, and science based on the results of state tests required by North Carolina’s school accountability system.