Adopt a Family
The student council at Staunton River HS in Moneta, VA, adopts a needy family from one of its feeder schools each year for the holidays. Each student who wishes to participate must raise at least $50 to contribute to the project. The group typically raises between $800 and $1,000.
On the designated day, student council members sing carols at a local nursing home and visit with the patients. Afterwards, they go shopping for their adopted family and wrap the gifts. Someone then delivers the gifts to the family that day. "All this is done anonymously," says Margaret Petty, student council adviser. "The family may know our student council members are the donors, but our students never know the recipients."
Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
Some people just know how to make someone feel at home. When the parents of one freshman at Germantown HS in Memphis, TN, realized that their son probably wasn't the only student new to the area, they asked the principal for the names and phone numbers for all the high school students who had recently moved to the area. They invited the students and their parents to a pizza party at their house before the first day of school and gave them an opportunity to meet their classmates before walking into the classroom. The party was a rousing success. The next Monday every new student had someone they could eat lunch with and laugh with.
Instead of providing the usual advice for students prior to standardized testing--get a good night's sleep, skip questions you don't know and come back to them, bring an extra pencil--the student council at Goza MS in Arkadelphia, AR, decided to get ready for its round of spring tests with a Benchmark Bash that involved both students and parents. The Bash was a school dance and a question and answer session for parents on the Benchmark Exam, a state-mandated test that measures students' proficiency in math and literacy. All students at the middle school were invited to attend the dance and the entry "fee" was to bring a parent. Students went to the cafeteria for a dance while parents were able to choose from a variety of presentations on topics related to the testing such as four-year planning for eighth graders, test preparation, and how the test affects students in special education classes. The sessions were videotaped for parents who were unable to attend and would like the information.
Night at the Oscars
The stars come out at Kankakee Valley HS in Wheatfield, IN, each spring as the student council treats the school to a night at the Oscars. A week before the event, the student council members put out a call for nominations in such categories as