Club projects on Fridays a big hit with students and families at United Elementary School

Reader’s Theater Club: Madilyn Rapp, Kaitlyn Graffius, Carter Cope, Allyson Lacey, Addie Johnson, Abbie Jones, Addyson Wright, Natalie Beagel, Connor Perry, Hailey Corfee, Miranda Dissell, Layla Joyce, Kimberly Holencheck, Blake Bezon, Aubrey Russell, Marissa Looman and McKenzie Greir.

HANOVERTON — United Local Elementary school teachers have implemented something spectacular this year on Fridays for their students and the feedback has been astounding. Under the direction of the school’s Leader in Me team, teachers were given the opportunity to create a club for students to attend for 40 minutes on Fridays for six weeks.

Students were then able to select which club interested them and from there, well, the students have been working hard to make sure that they don’t miss their club, called “Find Your Voice” (FYV) clubs. This is an interest based initiative based on the book, “The Leader in Me” by Steven Covey and the book, “The Seven Habits of Happy Children” by Sean Covey.

Teachers were given the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers throughout the building on a topic that they are personally interested in or are talented in. The clubs did not have to be standards based, but rather interest based. A few examples of the new FYV clubs include Robotics and Coding Club, Secret Service Club, Running Club, Reader’s Theatre Club, Crochet Club, Sports Skills Club, Incredible Cooking Club, Dancing with Stars Club, Snack and Paint Club and many more. Students will be able to attend two different clubs this school year, with each session lasting six weeks. Students were introduced to this new initiative at an assembly in September and were able to introduce their families to the clubs on student-led conference night by walking them through the gallery of club displays. Families were excited by their child’s anticipation and were able to encourage completed school work and positive behavior so that their child wouldn’t miss out. Students were all invited to attend the club of their choice the first week, and from there would have to set goals to stay on track so that they wouldn’t be held back in the coming weeks.

Now that the first session is well under way, students are raving about their personal club and the new connections that they are making. Students are thrilled to get to visit with a past teacher or creating a connection with a future teacher, as well as to make new friends as clubs are not separated by grade levels. Older students are mentoring our younger students and building positive relationships that extend beyond the individual classroom. There are even siblings who are involved in the same club and having a great time bonding in a different setting outside of home.

The feedback from students and families has been positive. It has been a wonderful way to wind down at the end of the week, to work on an interest to help keep focus in the classroom. It is relationship building and creating an atmosphere where all feel connected. The aim is to create a building with students’ voices as the main voice so that it leads into a future career choice, and aligns with United Local’s mission statement to Enlist, Enroll, Employ or Explore Entrepreneurship.

After all, even the best employee can’t focus 100 percent of the time, so we shouldn’t expect students to work from beginning to end and expect happy learners. We must have time for brain breaks, to explore new ideas and just have a little fun beyond the curriculum.