By Matthew Lukshaitis

Pine River Area Schools Superintendent

We have a new Leadership class at Pine River High School and I asked Cody Wagatha, the teacher of the class, in his second year at our district, to share some information with me so I could possibly share it in an article. Well, Cody took the time and wrote a nice article, so rather than me take his article and rewrite it, I thought I’d just share it. — Matthew Lukshaitis, Pine River Area Schools Superintendent

This year at Pine River we were given the opportunity to turn our student council into an everyday class. Having 53 minutes to meet every day gives us much more planning time to coordinate events. There is a grade for the class which is a combination of weekly writing assignments, creating awareness boards every two weeks and attending and working our events.

The class is called Leadership and is focused on taking some of the leaders from within the student body and finding ways to help our school and increase community involvement in our district. With our high school pulling students from multiple towns in the area, the students are especially focused on ways to make our school a place to unite those towns. Leadership at Pine River has replaced our student council and principal’s council, while we still have National Honor Society and Youth Advisory Council as their own entities. The class is modeled after an established Leadership program at Lake Orion High School that I was fortunate enough to be a part of during my student teaching.

Some events we have coordinated this year include the traditional Homecoming festivities and Thanksgiving food drive. We were able to bring back Powder Puff football and it was a huge success; next year should be even better.

We also habe been able to create some new events for the district such as our Boys and Girls Nights Out. These events are for our elementary-aged students and give them the opportunity to spend an evening at the high school participating in activities chosen by our Leadership class. We really try to focus on getting the children involved in engaging activities which require decisions, movement and strategy — we want to encourage kids to be social interactive and enhance "active brain time" as opposed to an over-reliance on passive activities or activities where they are alone with a screen.

We are still trying to bring more new events to Pine River to get people excited and involved. This year we would still like to put on a talent show, a pageant for the boys of the high school senior class called "Mr. PR," a volleyball version of Powder Puff for the boys, a Charity Week during the spring and Boys and Girls Nights Out during the third and fourth quarters of the school year.

We also have some big ideas for the class in the future. We are hoping to create some bigger events such as a Special Olympics basketball game with another school in the area, attend the statewide conference for student councils in Traverse City so we can compare ideas with other schools and eventually host a regional conference for other student councils north of Midland to exchange ideas that are more relevant to districts like ours.

We have an excellent group of students here at Pine River that are more than up to the challenge, and the staff as a whole has been extremely helpful in making this first year successful thus far. I have lofty goals and expectations for this class in the future and see no reason why they can’t be met.