How can our voices make a difference?

Project Overview:

Over the course of two months, grade 5 students investigated government (levels, responsibilities, electoral process) through a variety of means (research, guest speakers, participating in Civic Mock elections tying in with local municipal events, running a campaign against other grade 5 candidates). Pretty normal grade 5 stuff. We realized, however, that the grade 5 students often wonder if all this talk about “being leaders” on our campus really matters beyond some various tasks like taking care of recycling or setting up for birthday parties. In addition, as our enrollment continues to grow, the students and their teachers have begun to sense a fragmentation of the grade-level community, and we wish to address these problems. This project does that by solidifying the understanding that our grade 5 leaders can indeed make a difference—not just in the future, but right now, and that they can make that difference in their grade-level community and beyond.

Students joined one of 6 classroom”parties” to develop a platform, run a campaign (election posters, persuasive speeches), and then partner with one other homeroom to vote. The top 2 vote-getters from each classroom became our grade 5 Student Council Representatives, who were then responsible to plan:

  • a fall community building day,
  • a spring gathering highlighting courageous acts among our students,
  • 5-6 spirit/dress-up days with our Student Life Committee (including advertising and promotions to the school body general),
  • and a spring service project day to go bring food donations to our local food bank.

These representatives met with administration and teacher-led committees to plan their ideas, and reported back to their constituents on their progress and plans. They also involved their respective parties and classmates in executing their ideas. Representatives also participated in BC Schools of Character Youth Forum in February, developing school improvement ideas around the theme of courage, which led to a courage-themed talent show, “ACS Got Courage” and our food drive for the food bank.

“There were many celebrations from this project, most notably that our students stepped up so courageously to lead classmates in acts of community building and service. The students were also highly engaged in the electoral process, developing excellent persuasive speeches and campaigns. Our student council this year was very effective and involved in school life! As we look ahead to the next iteration, we will adjust our plans around a federal election instead of a municipal election and will try to continue to involve community leaders.”

Victoria Butler, Lori Van Dyk, Janice van der Leek, Maury Thiessen: ACS Teachers & Project Designers


  • Community building events such as school spirit days
  • Food drive for local food bank

How has this engaged students in ACS’ mission and vision?

Engaging Minds: By students delving deeply into understanding electoral process by doing a full campaign.

Nurturing Hearts: Students realized their ideas/voices matter and they worked to build stronger grade-level community with fall and spring events.

Shaping God’s World: By considering ways students can serve the outside community and then did so with the food drive for the local food bank.

How has this learning experience served or connected to our community?

The students participated in a city wide youth forum which involved meeting with other students from school in Abbotsford to discuss and learn more about the theme of courage and how it can be celebrated and promoted. Afterwards, the student council representatives helped their immediate school community by hosting a courage-themed talent show. But it was important to the students that their learning went beyond self-serving activities, so the council hosted a food drive for the grade 5 students, with each of four homerooms bringing in the top four requested foods for the local food bank.

“Students were more engaged and involved in the learning of specifics about government, primarily because they knew that they would be filling ‘governmental’ roles with our student council. They also appreciated knowing that their voice would be heard and that their ideas could happen—even if that meant a lot of hard work on their part. Even better, the students were able to see that leadership requires service, and the student council representatives embodied this principle in wonderful ways, going beyond serving their grade to help the school and the community.”

“I never thought that we’d be doing so many different things for others.”
– student council representative

“We are a really talented bunch of grade 5’s.”
– grade 5 participant in ACS Got Courage, the courage themed talent show

“I’m looking forward to helping with the Middle School Spirit Team next year.”
– student council representative

Student Reflections