Selected by anonymous essay…
Lisbon Middle School Students complete school and community projects through unique team
By Mattie Richardson-Schmitz
It was about four years ago when Mrs. Schmit started teaching in Lisbon, and when she noticed that there weren’t very many extracurricular activities available to the middle school students besides sports. It sparked an idea.
“I had been in leadership/student council programs in high school and college, and I thought our students might be interested. I held a meeting in the spring of 2014 to gauge interest for grades 6-7, and over 30 students showed up. My room was packed!”
It seems that the LMS students thought it was a good idea too.
The group met a couple more times to determine the eligibility of the group and their mission statement.
The group is completely unique to the Lisbon Middle School and is shaped by the students.
Schmit says that the first year they had 23 members and the second they had 44 members. It became a little difficult to figure out how to meet and keep everyone involved with that many members. It was determined that there needed to be some sort of selection process to pick members for the team.
“I had never wanted it to be a popularity contest, and the students were completely behind me on that,” says Schmit. “I think it was one of the current freshmen who came up with the idea of an anonymous application. The application became an essay and consensus was quickly reached.”
Students who wanted to be part of the team submitted their essays anonymously. Schmit chose the final essays.
“Choosing the essays is one of my favorite and most dreaded parts of my role. I love reading what they have to say, but I hate having to choose. I keep them all!”
It was a hard choice, but keeping the essays anonymous made sure that it was fair. It is obvious that the kids took the team seriously from their essays.
“A leader is not somebody with a title or somebody who was appointed as the leader,” Emma Gillespie, an eighth grader who is currently the vice president of the team, wrote in her essay. “A leader is anyone who takes action as opposed to just sitting around and complaining about something. Leadership is a great opportunity for me to learn to work as a team with people I wouldn’t usually talk to.”
The students take their mission to heart, to make their school and community a better place.
The officers of the group include Caleb Olson as the President, Emma Gillespie as the Vice President, Sheyenne Waletzko as the Treasurer and Gracia Rolf as the Secretary.
Each of them serves as a “team leader” in different aspects and they take their positions seriously, helping to guide and direct other students on the team when necessary.
Gillespie said “I joined the leadership team because I wanted to help make decisions and make an impact where I can.”
The other officers agreed.
“Making goals and achieving them is a great feeling,” comments Rolf. “Having a leadership team here at school allows us to brainstorm and come up with some ideas to help our community and our school.”
Some of the things they have done is organize a silent auction, benefits for an ill student, and food drives.
They’ve also worked to build an enrichment program for the middle school students. The list goes on and on.
“They’ve organized Kleenex drives, school dance, quarter behavior events, and probably half a dozen other things I can’t think of!” exclaimed Schmit.
They’ve also supported larger programs like Project Linus, Wounded Warriors, and the Anne Carlson Center.
“I may have seen the need and provided the outlet, but the students make the team what it is each year. I try to stress that at our first meeting– if they want to do something, I will try to help them make it happen,” explained Schmit.
She also noted the administration and other staff were a big part of making the team happen. “Mrs. Meckle was our principal the first year of the team, and she told me to go for it! The flexibility she gave our new program allowed us to shape it into what we wanted it to be.”
She says that other teachers were willing to help by swapping students to cover while she was advising the team, and that they have always been very supportive of the plans that the Leadership Team comes up with.
All of the chosen applicants show a desire to positively impact their school and community.
In their essays, many of the students spoke about the teams that came before them and how those students inspired them to be positive leaders in their school.
“To be a good leader, you have to be understanding of others’ opinions, strong, and not afraid to voice your own opinion,” stated Preston Bergeman, a seventh grader on the team.
The group of students are the ones who pick what projects they will do, and Schmit simply directs them. All of them are collaborative projects that benefit the school and/or community.
One of their most recent ventures includes a “school store,” which provides healthy snacks to their fellow classmates.
They did a test run of the store last year with donations provided by the pool preservers and raised over $1,200 for the group.
With the store project, the kids are learning about healthy food guidelines, budgeting, and marketing. The earnings for the store will support future team activities and programs to support the students, school, and the community of Lisbon.
“The school store is a neat idea because we can provide healthy snacks to the kids here for a good price, and the money goes back to the community,” explained Caleb Olson, president.
The students also held a food drive at the school Dec. 11-15.
The team is actively participating in their school and community to make a positive impact.
Schmit reinforces that the students are the ones who make the program what it is.
“I like to think that the students are the driving force behind the leadership team. These students inspire me to come to work and do more every day. Seeing their desire to make their school, community and world a better place and helping them to achieve those goals is really the driving force behind it all. “A lot of kids want to do something about the problems they see; they just don’t know how to go about it. If this team helps them feel empowered to do a little more, it’s done its job.”
The Lisbon Middle School Leadership team is made up of seventh and eighth graders that are selected by anonymous essays. Back row (left to right): Wyatt Webb, Emma Gillespie, Sheyenne Waletzko, Ellie Rieger, Breena Wheeler, Caleb Olson, Spencer Kelsen, Preston Bergeman, and Rodney Olson. Middle row: Logan Kirby, Izzy Hoff, Kendra Vacett, Josey Shockman, Morgan Dibell, and Glen Hopkins. Front: Ryann Neameyer and Gracia Rolf. Kailee Ackerland is also on the team but not pictured here.
The school store is just one of the many things the Lisbon Middle School leadership team does. Students learn about healthy foods guidelines, budgeting, and marketing with their school store, with the proceeds benefiting community and school projects.