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Students plan activities to make community a better place

Comstock Park — It was an interesting debate: fabric for the scarves, or not. 

“We’ve got Oreos for the eyes and buttons,” said fifth-grader Kyle Myers, with third-grader Liv Kirgan adding that they could use half Oreos for the mouth. “Carrots for the nose and paint sticks for the arms. We could use a piece of fabric for the scarf.”

“But then you have wet fabric,” said fourth-grader Braylon Donley. “I think we need something that just goes away when the snowmen melt instead of having to pick up a wet piece of fabric.”

The threesome are part of Pine Island Elementary’s Leaders of Tomorrow, which came up with the school-wide January activity to create a “snowman city.” Every class would be asked to bring in the necessary supplies, then build a snowman on the playground. But due to the January snowstorms, the Leaders had not had a chance to talk to classmates about bringing in supplies.

“So remember, we were going to ask for time to talk to our classes so that in the next snowstorm we would be ready with our supplies to build the snowmen,” said third-grade teacher Kristen Keifer, the group’s team teacher leader.

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

In its first year, students in the Pine Island Leaders of Tomorrow are selected by their teachers, with one student representing each of the 16 classrooms in the school. Working in groups of three, there’s a third-, fourth- and fifth-grader in each group to help encourage students to work across and get to know other grade levels. 

The group meets after school for an hour or so, about every two weeks.  

They plan activities, usually with a focus on how they can serve the community. They also have worked with school staff to help to relay information back to their classrooms, such as reminding classmates about free breakfast available before school.

In November, they created fliers for and hosted a food drive for the Comstock Park Giving Closet, a nonprofit that helps families in Comstock Park and families with children attending Comstock Park Public Schools.

Students submit project suggestions or ideas through the Voice and Choice box. The Leaders group reviews the suggestions and discusses possible next steps such as talking to staff or seeing if another group is already working on that suggestion.

Projects with Heart

For February, the leadership group decided to raise funds for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital by hosting a Valentine’s Day candy sale. Depending on costs, students decided to sell a mix of lollipops and Hershey’s Kisses over several days leading up to Valentine’s Day. 

As the discussion went, there were a few logistics the students discussed that Keifer said she had not thought of.

Fifth-grader Aubrey Mosson’s group decided school lunch periods were a good time to sell, and those who had recess could sell at the lunch period for other students. 

Third-grader Evelyn Hogg’s group raised the question of what to do with the candy if those who’d bought some were heading outside to recess, since food isn’t allowed on the playground.

“How about if we have some envelopes or small bags the students could write their name on, and then they could put them in the classroom’s lunch bin?” Evelyn suggested, adding that the bins were returned to classrooms after lunch.

Envelopes, of which Keifer said she had extra, and markers were added to the supply list.

Braylon suggested heart-shaped paper be available for students to write notes to others they might want to give candy. 

Once the logistics have been settled, the group decided at the next meeting they would prepare items for the sale and create posters for the event.

“I am excited about this project,” Keifer told students as they wrapped up their meeting. “I am just so proud of the work you are doing.”

Read more from Comstock Park: 
Taking the plunge
Good leaders and drawing monsters; there’s a tie-in

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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