4-year-old ‘lunch club’ tackles service projects

Published 3:12 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By By JOHN EBY / Dowagiac Daily News
Teachers Rachel Kyncl and Kimberly Montgomery started Sister Lakes Elementary School Student Council as a lunch club four years ago.
"We had teachers nominate two students to be on student council during recess and lunch. They gave up their time," Kyncl reported to Dowagiac Board of Education Monday night.
"We really stress leadership skills, trying to become a good partner with our community and we're trying to get them involved."
Sister Lakes Student Council, which also promotes the anti-bullying and bucket-filling programs, is not like student government at Union High School.
Actually, it's more comparable to the DUHS National Honor Society in its focus on service projects.
A pet food drive has been organized for two years which benefits the Cass County animal shelter in Cassopolis.
Last year, Sister Lakes' efforts generated more than 600 pounds of food in two weeks.
The student council collaborates with another active component of its community, Sister Lakes Lions Club and holiday food baskets it assembles.
Last year Sister Lakes turned it into a friendly competition between grades.
First graders won in what turned out to be the largest collection ever by the Lions, who in gratitude presented the school a plaque which hangs in a prominent place outside the office.
Its first year, student council made suncatchers for residents of the former Dowagiac Nursing Home.
Sister Lakes Student Council also got involved with the cancer-fighting Relay for Life.
The teachers took pies in the face as part of a Relay event which contributed to the school's $2,802 total.
Pennies for Patients rounded up loose change. There were also monthly popcorn days and days to wear hats for a small fee.
The teachers said student council helps promote a healthy, happy school climate.
They wore examples of shirts sold in the spirit store along with school supplies.
An orange-and-black Friday connected younger students to Homecoming. Student council makes signs to promote its events.
Students are also taking over the boxtop and soup label redemption program which helps the library purchase books and playground equipment, such as jump ropes and balls.
In other Oct. 20 business, the school board granted family leaves to Justus Gage fifth grade teacher Margie Brosnan and to bus driver Rose Reynolds.
Co-curricular appointments approved include: Karen Miller, DUHS school improvement chair; Karen Vaickus, DUHS Business Club adviser; Meredith Marrs, DMS cheerleading coach; and Megan Scott, DMS cheerleading coach.
Each year the U.S. Department of Education requires school districts to determine a maximum allowable tuition cost for incoming out-of-district students. Students who do not receive a release waiver would be required to pay the foundation amount of $7,316, plus $50 for elementary and $100 for secondary students for a total of: $7,366 elementary; and $7,416 secondary without a waiver.