Student Council gets down and digital for this year’s project.

By Brendan O'Brien | Primary School, Student Life

The students circle up on the fuzzy grey rug and take turns saying their names into the microphone. Some are shy and some shout, some are tiny and some are ten, but all are here for the same reason – to talk about grit.

Welcome to the Prairie Podcast Project, a first-time dabbling into the world of digital media by the Primary School Student Council.

Despite this being only their second episode, the group already has the process down. Having spent the past week talking about grit in their respective classes, they are now visiting Kathryn LaLonde’s room to practice the answers they’ll give about what grit means, and how they can show it in their lives.

“It has gone even better than I hoped,” says LaLonde, 3rd grade teacher and Student Council Co-Advisor. “It’s just a really cool project that has allowed all of the kids to work together.”

The Primary School Student Council has developed a reputation for cool projects. Since taking over as an Advisor during the 2015-16 school year, LaLonde has helped spearhead projects such as Attitude of Gratitude, A Tiny Way to Show Big Appreciation, and Teaching Leaders and Planners. The annual project is part of the Primary School’s Character Education Program, designed to help students understand and implement the nine different character traits Prairie teaches its students: growth mindset, grit, gratitude, social-emotional intelligence, optimism, purpose, zest, curiosity, and self-control.

Nine traits for nine months of school. And every month, teachers make it a priority to point out that month’s trait whenever it manifests itself in their lessons.

“I always try to keep it in mind when it appears in other subjects,” says LaLonde. “For example, I might say, ‘today, we’re learning double-digit multiplication and we’re going to need a growth mindset.’”

After practicing their answers with LaLonde, students go down the hall to record with Kristina Gile, 2nd grade teacher, Student Council Co-Advisor, and the podcast’s digital guru. After the recording is complete, certain members of the group will sit down to interview a special guest – this particular episode features Dr. Coffman, Head of School – before Gile edits the audio.

Every student in Kindergarten through 4th grade participates in at least one Student Council meeting per year, meaning everyone will have the opportunity to hear their voice on the podcast.

The project has proven a fun way to reinforce what students are learning in class, and when it comes to the character traits, learning is exactly what they’re doing. Primary School teachers are diligent in devoting regular class time — thirty or forty minutes, three or four times a week — to teaching character education. Through skits, discussions, books, and other resources, students study character traits the same way they study math, English, or science.  

“It’s very cool when you see the kids begin to understand,” LaLonde says. “They really start to get it. They begin to use the words in their vocabulary. They notice the importance of these things in their own lives.”

To learn more about the Podcast Project, and all the other cool programs, classes, and clubs at Prairie, prospective families interested in grades Pre-K through 12th are invited to visit our Fall Open House on October 21st from noon-3PM.