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Student Council Tradition Continues at Frederiksen Elementary School

September 1, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–On Tuesday, the release bell sounded at 2:00 PM at Frederiksen Elementary School. However, dozens of students began to gather on the black top and in front of a closed door to Room 17. Why did these children elect to stay after school? About 10 minutes later, a surprised 3rd Grade teacher Kenna Moirao opened the door and welcomed these fourth and fifth graders by instructing them that every desk should be occupied and that the overflow would be handled by taking a seat on the carpet at the front of the classroom.

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The occasion was to orient all in attendance to the purpose of the Frederiksen Student Council. The presentation underscored the importance of the endeavor, the scope of all positions available and a set of leadership “expectations” that should be demonstrated by all that are involved. This is not necessarily something new to Ms. Moirao. She has worked in the teaching profession for eight years. Additionally, this is her third year as Student Council Advisor at Fred.

Over the years, this program has supported many popular events that have benefitted both Fred Panthers, but to outside community/students as well. Some of these include “Toys for Tots”, “Spirit Week”, “Red Ribbon Week” and “Book Fair Helper.” One project that tends to unify the entire campus is “Pennies for Patients.” As the name would imply, students and their families are encouraged to donate coins in order to lift up some other young person that may be suffering from a medical malady. But all of these directives require active participation and direction from upper-grade students.

The six cabinet level positions are reserved for fifth graders. All students must submit a written application that indicates their grade level and the position that they desire to seek. All non-officers would simply serve as a member of the Student Council. The last 20 minutes of the presentation was devoted to a Q&A section where it was clear to see that many in the audience were taking this seriously. One young lady posed whether she could switch her position as President with her Vice President midway through the term. And, a male fifth grader asked “Can I vote for myself?” The answer was “yes” by the way.

The source of the initial surprise was the sheer number of students that showed up at the door. Just last year, the entire Student Council consisted of 20 members. While staring at 57 faces, Kenna made the strategic decision to increase the total membership to 30 – 15 fourth graders and 15 fifth graders. In attendance at this meeting was Principal Claire Mognaga. She reassured all of the students that those not gaining membership this year would be deemed to a priority list for other vital projects at the school.

We wanted to gain greater insight from Ms. Moirao and to let her share her observations on what should be a highly popular program this year.

OneDublin.org: Please explain why you personally demonstrated an interest in serving as the Student Council Advisor.

DSC_0015Kenna Moirao: “Helping kids understand the importance of community support is right up my alley. As a classroom teacher, I strive to create a community where my students can grow and learn. It is a place where they can feel safe to make mistakes and to learn from them. Student Council is just a bigger classroom.”

OneDublin.org: Describe some of the benefits that you hope the 4th & 5th graders will gain by participating in this endeavor.

Moirao: “The primary characteristics include taking responsibility, understanding commitment and to become confident in public speaking. My hope is that our Student Council members leave Frederiksen with a better understanding of their community and a compassion for others.”

OneDublin.org: With the overwhelming number of students that expressed an interest in the joining the Council, the initial process simply includes submitting an application in a timely manner. For those that may not make the “cut” what avenues will Frederiksen provide to these students?

Moirao: “Claire has some ideas about how to give these students some other leadership opportunities. We are not sure of the “what” or “how” at this moment. But, we both want to encourage them to continue to support their community. I will also be sending a list of student names to the PFC to see if they can use some help with their upcoming events.”

OneDublin.org: Anything else that you like to add? 

Moirao: “As an Advisor, I don’t get a stipend for my time and effort. Over the past three years I have given up my lunch, preps, supplies and a gained a few gray hairs. Why do I do it? It is simple. For the two 7thgrade students who came by my room at the end of last year to say “Ms. Moirao! We got into Leadership! Thank you!” I did nothing. It was all them.”

So, student councils remain and continue to be a relevant part of each site environment. OneDublin.org would like to thank Kenna Moirao for her insights and willingness to keep this tradition alive at Frederiksen Elementary School. And, we appreciate the Advisors at all our schools within the Dublin Unified School District.

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