Part 2: Middle School Taking the Lead
As we lean into our vision of creating great thinkers and leaders, Congressional School is intentional in its approach to student leadership at all grade levels. We focus on the soft skills that are the essence of strong leadership such as collaboration, problem solving, and responsibility. We also help students build a portfolio of hard skills such as public speaking, writing, and research with many opportunities for them to put their skills to the test. The following examples offer a glimpse into student leadership at Congressional School.
The Student Council is a leadership opportunity designed to give students real-world experience and understanding of the democratic process. Students in grades five through eight are eligible to participate and are chosen through an election process. Two eighth grade co-chairs are elected and hold office for the entire school year. Grade level representatives are also chosen through elections at the beginning of the school year and again in late-January so that representation is shared among as many students as possible. Eighth grader’s running for co-chair must have previously served as grade level representatives.
Student Council meets regularly to organize three middle school hangouts each year, plan spirit days, run the annual student talent show and a number of community service projects, including assisting the Congressional School Parent Organization to execute its events. The Student Council also makes recommendations to the Division Directors on aspects of student life. Student Council is an impactful activity for students, giving them a voice and a platform to represent the student body and to show good citizenship and civic responsibility. The experience can also inspire and embolden them to run for similar positions in high school.
SXITH GRADERS LAUNCH SHOE DRIVE AS A GLOBAL SERVICE INITIATIVE
Sixth grade boys, led by Aaron Hjalmervik, Luke Pynchon, and Anderson Wexler, launched a school-wide shoe drive as a global service initiative.
The students invited families to donate gently used shoes over several weeks this winter. The students collected 80 large trash bags filled with shoes which they donated to Funds2Orgs. The shoes will be distributed to micro-entrepreneurs who will repurpose and resell them in developing economies to stimulate economic growth. Funds2Orgs pays 44¢ per pound for the shoes, and the students plan to donate the proceeds.
Students in preschool through eighth grade participate in Congressional’s Buddies program to help students develop relationships across the grades and support community-building within the school. Every class has a buddy class, and every student has a buddy. The relationships forged across ages benefit both older and younger, mentor and mentee. Younger children delight in attention from older kids and see firsthand what they can become. Older students take the responsibility seriously and gain confidence. Students value the buddy program, and rightly so.
Students in preschool through eighth grade participate in Congressional’s Buddies program to help students develop relationships across the grades and support community-building within the school. Every class has a buddy class, and every student has a buddy. The relationships forged across ages benefit both older and younger, mentor and mentee. Younger children delight in attention from older kids and see firsthand what they can become. Older students take the responsibility seriously and gain confidence.
Students value the buddy program, and rightly so.
Back for a second year is the 8th grade student-run Congressional Coffee House. Organized in partnership with music teacher, Ashley Spalletta, the Coffee House is an evening of middle school student performances in an ambient setting with light refreshments. The evening is fully planned and implemented by 8th grade students who do everything from marketing and promotion, reviewing audition videos, decorating the venue providing refreshments, ushering guests, and last but not least, end of evening clean up. This year’s event took place on Friday, February 28
in front of a packed audience.
STUDENTS ORGANIZE AID FOR DORIAN RELIEF
When hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in late August 2019 leaving behind immense destruction, Congressional’s Student Council quickly mobilized to raise funds for the relief effort. The students launched a Pennies for People collection of loose change, announced Free Dress Fridays with voluntary donations in exchange for dressing casually, and hosted a Middle School Snack Bar run by students during recess. Several fourth graders also set up a snack booth at the Fall Festival to raise money. Through these efforts, the students raised $3,000 which they donated to World Central Kitchen, a not-for-profit organization that provides meals to people affected by natural disasters.
Preschool - 8th Grade Private School
Infant and Toddler Program
Falls Church, VA