Over the years, I’ve sponsored lots of student elections. Fourth grade president, sophomore class secretary, drama club president, editor-in-chief of the school paper. They’re all heady affairs, fraught with emotion and promise, but I’m convinced they’re worthwhile and rewarding experiences.
Kids learn a lot from “putting themselves out there” and running for a position that teaches leadership and initiative. They can grow personally, socially, academically, and emotionally.
Here are a few persuasive thoughts I’ve used with kids who’ve asked what I thought about their running for a school or extracurricular club election. I almost always encourage them. I’ve seen even the most unlikely candidates (“You want to do what?!”) step up and become surprisingly good school leaders, much to many people’s surprise. School’s a time for taking risks and learning, right?
1. Gain confidence. Nothing promotes confidence better than tackling a challenge and knowing you’ve done your best.
2. Keep your grades up. Since you have to maintain a good grade average to run for office, this is a great way to study for those tests and complete those assignments.
3. Learn when you win. Winning feels good, and it’s a good practice to evaluate why you’ve won. What did you do to make a difference? What did you learn?
4. Learn when you don’t. Okay, so you lost this election. What could you have done differently? We humans can learn a ton from our mistakes. What did you learn?
5. Improve your communicating. Communication skills – reading, writing, speaking, and listening – are among our most effective life skills. Learn to be thoughtful, analytical, persuasive, and responsible.
6. Improve your organizing. Every school project requires organization, from your book reports to your science fair projects. Same with running for school office. Manage your time, break big tasks into smaller ones, stay focused, and ask for help when you need it.
7. Be of service. Working for a cause you believe in, helping others, sharing your talents, and pulling your weight can be fulfilling – not to mention making you a good citizen.
8. Make friends. Running a campaign is the epitome of being a team member, and team members learn from one another, recognize each other’s talents, and become friends.
9. Motivate yourself. Have the words “This is boring” ever escaped your lips? If so, here’s the perfect opportunity to motivate yourself to a more exciting and purposeful school life.
10. Learn about volunteerism. Everyone can give of himself or herself. Giving generously of your time and talent to a cause you believe in will improve your life. I guarantee it.
Running for team captain, class secretary, or tech club president can be a great experience, make for some new friends, and even enhance a college application. Give it some serious thought, will you?