DECATUR — In most schools, students run for student council and their classmates vote for candidates for president and secretary and so on.
At Stephen Decatur Middle School, student council is different. No campaign. No vote. No officers.
“I didn’t want to exclude anybody,” said Merry Lanker, one of the faculty sponsors of the group.
This is more of a service council, a group of students whose purpose is to look for ways they can offer help to someone in need.
In a recent effort to help the community, students collected donations of personal care products such as toothpaste and body wash for Dove Inc.
“They have whole long list of supplies they need, and we met as a student council and picked a few we could focus on,” Lanker said. “We thought it would be easier if we concentrated on a few items and not having kids bringing razors and shaving cream to school.”
She refers to the student council as more of a “volunteer corps.”
“If it’s more based on community service, they get more of a sense of accomplishment, and they can have that pride in helping other people,” Lanker said. “When they go into high school, they have to do service hours anyway, and I thought if I could introduce them to that, I could introduce them to places in the community they could go for volunteering.”
One place the students visited was Evergreen Place, an assisted-living community on the southeast side of Decatur, where the kids visited residents in the Alzheimer’s unit.
“It was really big and really nice,” said Sierra Barnette, an eighth-grader. “When we walked in, we went back to this craft area, and we helped them paint and color and we asked them questions about their lives and things like that. I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know them and I work better with younger kids, but they were nice.”
Matthew Howell said he wants to be involved at school and he thought the group would be a good way to do that
Decatur Dental provided toothbrushes and toothpaste for the project and Lanker said she and the kids were amazed by the amount donated.
“I really like to help out,” Freddie Ellington said. “That’s what I get out of it.”