History created - Villa Road Primary elects first student council body
With beaming faces, sweaty palms and hearts filled with pride, the students of the Villa Road Primary School last week created history when they exercised their franchise to elect their first-ever student council body.
Supervised by representatives from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), students, teachers and other members of staff got the opportunity to select the students they deemed fit to fill the new positions.
Acting principal of the Villa Road Primary School and one of the coordinator of the election process, Colleth Thomas, told Rural Xpress that "the school was primary and junior high, now it is just primary. Prior to the change, we only had student council members in the upper school. This year, we decided to change things up. We threw out the idea of having a head boy and head girl to the students and we had nine students come forward. In addition to choosing a student council body, we wanted the students to understand the democratic process of choosing our government leaders."
The criteria for consideration were based on grades, discipline, cooperation and an overall good standing at the institution.
"Our chairman, Mr Trevor Heaven, led the interview with the nine candidates, from that batch. Four students were selected to proceed. We want these students to be role models for the others. Villa Road is not a community school. We have children from everywhere, from different backgrounds. It's very diverse but I want those elected to be examples. All our students can be excellent, academically, socially and otherwise," said Thomas
The road to leadership
The process included a manifesto presentation during devotion; a nomination day, where students were accompanied by the teacher managers; a three-day campaign, and an election day that mirrored national elections.
"More than 300 students voted, grades one and two were the only classes not eligible to vote. All the teachers, members of staff, support staff; security guards, everybody wanted to be a part of the process. Each group had their different polling stations and the register was printed and placed at each station," the principal said.
Segree Thomas, returning officer for Central Manchester and past teacher of the institution, who was instrumental in the process, said that the coordinators should be commended for such a move.
He added that at a time when many young people have lost interest in the democratic process, these students could become game changers. Thomas said that this method of electing student council members should be employed in institutions at all levels.
When the ballots were counted, 11-year-old Daijanea Brown and Jullian Wallace came out the successful head girl and boy, respectively. The other two candidates, Anmerrique Miller and Jordaine Nesbeth, will serve as their deputies.
"I am so excited to be the first head girl for Villa Road Primary. Some of the things I want to improve are the changing rooms for the girls. I want the new meals at the canteen to continue and the field to be maintained for the boys to play more sports. I want to work with the principal and vice-principal on behalf of the students," said Daijanea.
Head boy Jullian told Rural Xpress that he hoped to help with the discipline of students and the diversification of the sporting activities currently being offered.