Students are sitting on the gym floor with their backs to the camera. A student is speaking in front of them

The start of the 2022-23 school year brought student government to the elementary level at Arkport Central School District which gives young students the opportunity to learn organization, leadership and teamwork skills while also making an impact on their school and a voice in how it’s run. 

Teachers and student government advisors Amy Harris and Bonni Karr began the school year by introducing 18 participating fifth and sixth grade students to the capability and capacity of student government. This encompassed “getting to know you” activities, lessons in leadership, instruction on the fundamentals of what student government looks like and the process of planning, getting approval for and finalizing events. 

In its first year, the elementary student government completed an impressive list of achievements, including hosting a roller skating party, which incorporated a skating session for high school students for the first time; helping with Bluejay parties; assisting  with clean-up and the concession stand at a high school dance; hosting a “red, white and denim” day that raised $337 for the G.I. Go Fund; installing a recycling bin at the baseball fields, which reduces waste and raises money for student government, and much more.

For the 2022-23 school year, the student government did not hold elections, instead all members served as representatives. As the year progressed however, two sixth grade students stood out as leaders. These students, Madeline Marcus and Jemma Burrell, were given the titles of President and Vice President respectively. Both students demonstrated intuitive, strong and charismatic leadership skills throughout the year but particularly when planning, organizing and executing the assembly for the first student government election.

Elementary student government elections for the 2023-24 school year

Fourth and fifth grade students were given the opportunity to serve as a representative or to run for an elected position which they would serve in the 2023-24 school year. The candidates created campaign posters which they hung throughout the school building. Many wrote clever and memorable slogans, such as “McKay is the way” or “be a good fella and vote for Cartella.” In addition, the students learned how to write and deliver a clear and concise campaign speech. 

At the election assembly, Mrs. Smith spoke about the role the student government will play at the elementary level – how it will give elementary students a say in their school and the opportunity to raise money to support events at their level, while also collaborating with the upper level.

Maddi and Jemma explained their roles, the election process and how to vote. Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Karr spoke to students about voter privacy and confidentiality and how to select the most qualified candidate.

After discussing the roles and responsibilities of each position and the candidates delivered their speeches, students cast their votes by placing ballots in a beautiful box made and donated by Mr. Burrell, Jemma's father. 

The results are in….

Students in fourth grade were eligible to run for and vote for the positions of Head Representative or Speaker of the House. 

  • Head Representative: Isla Feenaughty ran unopposed

  • Speaker of the House: candidates Allison McKay, Scarlett Harris and Brogan Walsh; winner Allison McKay

Students in fifth grade were eligible to run for and vote for the positions of President, Vice President, Treasurer (two positions), Secretary, Speaker of the House and Head Representative. 

  • President: candidates Ailey Cartella, Jace Carey; winner Jace Carey 

  • Vice President: candidates Abigail Muhleisen, Samantha Muratore; winner Samantha Muratore

  • Treasurer: candidates Brooklyn Shephard, Avry Smith, Bella Burch, Astraea Glowacki; winners Avry Smith, Bella Burch

  • Secretary: Owen Burley ran unopposed

  • Speaker of the House: Kiera McKay ran unopposed 

  • Head Representative: no candidates

With no candidates for fifth grade Head Representative, Maddie and Jemma, along with the student government advisors, met with Presidential runner-up Ailey Cartella about becoming Head Representative. After discussions about the requirements of the position and her qualifications, Ailey agreed to accept the position.

After the results were announced, all of the candidates debriefed over lunch and treats – and to celebrate Maddie’s birthday. The students, whether they won or lost, were supportive and showed great sportsmanship and maturity. While some were disappointed in the outcome, all felt proud of themselves for participating in a very important aspect of government. This real-world experience will serve the students well as they continue with student government in elementary and high school. 

The first year of student government at the elementary level was a true success and has created excitement and expectations for what the 2023-24 school year will bring. The advisors and students anticipate new school and community events, service projects and even greater collaboration with the high school student government.

Thank you to the following students for their participation and hard work in the first Arkport elementary student government election: Ailey Cartella, Jace Carey, Samantha Muratore, Stephanie Spencer Barbosa, Brooklyn Shephard, Astraea Glowacki, Abigail Muhleisen, Layla Ford, Kiera McKay, Payton Hann, Maya Churchman, Kara Mahany, grade 5;  Maddie Marcus, Jemma Burrell, Zoe Graves, Wyatt Quant, Grace Adams, grade 6.