GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Jonathan White and his fellow student government colleagues giggled and shouted playfully to each other for help as they loaded packages of canned and boxed goods into the back of Clare Cronin's car at R.J. Bailey Elementary School.
Over the past few weeks, Cronin, an art teacher and student government coordinator, and White, the student government president, helped the students bring in non-perishables for their annual Thanksgiving food drive. The donated food was given to Greenburgh's Union Baptist Church.
"The drive is run through student government," said Cronin. "The kids get enthused. It's fun. If you give them good ideas, they'll get enthused about it."
This school year, the students at R.J. Bailey are partaking in more community service than in years past. In September, sixth grader Millie Bennett asked Principal Marguerite Clarkson if the school could engage in more projects. Clarkson decided to involve the children and made the future community service projects student-generated.
"There's so much pressure with testing and so much pressure with all of the requirements," said Clarkson. "These projects are the things that feed their souls. It engages them in school, and it motivates them to come. It's building future leaders."
Principal Clarkson said that student government inspires the students to enjoy school. For instance, she said, a math test might not be fun to be at school for, but if it's followed by a student government meeting, the students get excited.
For December, the R.J. Bailey students organized the creation of activity books for the Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla. They include crossword puzzles, mad libs and jokes. Mid-December, they will deliver the books to the children and stay for a lecture about cancer in children.