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Forming the Future: Our Lady of the Assumption School student council fosters leadership and service

Our Lady of the Assumption School, Lynnfield, teacher Marcia Burns is pictured with student council members Allison Durand, Joy Pham, and Jack Swales. Pilot photo/courtesy Our Lady of the Assumption School

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LYNNFIELD -- The student council at Our Lady of the Assumption School is made up of students in grades seven and eight who volunteer their time to serve the local community, organize charitable projects, and help run events for the school.

Marcia Burns coordinates the student council, in addition to teaching fifth- and sixth-grade math at Our Lady of the Assumption School.

In a Dec. 12 interview with The Pilot, Burns said students are taught "that there is so much need out there, and I think that we are trying to fulfill some of that need by some of the projects that we do."

Throughout the year, the student council organizes food drives, coat drives, toy drives, ice cream socials, a talent show, a "trunk or treat" Halloween event, and a Christmas sing-along. The student council also helps the PTO to run events like bingo, a movie night, an Advent camp, a Christmas tree lighting, and an Easter Bunny Adventure.

The student council's officers are eighth-grade students elected by their peers. A few teachers also participate in the elections.

Jack Swales, vice-president of the student council, said the experience helps students to build confidence.

"If you like to help out with things, then you eventually help out with bigger things in the future," he said.

In addition to running events for the school, the student council also participates in service opportunities and holds fundraisers for different charities.

Its members facilitate monthly fundraisers in which students can wear clothes other than the school uniform if they make a donation for a certain cause. They also volunteer at My Brother's Table, a soup kitchen in Lynn.

The student council helps the school coordinate with Our Lady of the Assumption Parish to collect beds for A Bed for Every Child, an initiative of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Students assemble and paint the beds themselves at the school.

"It makes you feel very joyful inside, when you help out," said student council secretary Joy Pham.

Jack and Joy both described the student council as feeling like a family.

"It's super fun and it makes everyone feel so welcome," Jack said.

Though only seventh- and eighth-grade students can participate, the student council's role in the school community is visible to all the grades. Every other Sunday, its members assist at Mass as readers or altar servers. When the school holds food drives for Thanksgiving, they display each grade's collected items for everyone to see.

"The fact that all the students see what we're doing is important," Burns said.

The student council helps to serve as role models for the younger students, who see them running events and serving in leadership roles.

"Being able to show the younger grades how we can work together and accomplish something bigger is really fun," Joy said.

Student council treasurer Chris Marks said his favorite thing about being on the student council is seeing the smiles on the younger students' faces at events the council organizes for them.

"They have so much fun when we help them. It makes everyone else feel good," Chris said.

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