- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Creekside Elementary students share insights, build leadership skills, during leadership lunches
It’s not every day that a student gets to have lunch with their principal. But on Nov. 29, nine fifth graders at Creekside Elementary sat down with Principal Kelly Sommerfeld to share a midday meal and their perspective on their school.
“It’s important for me and the teachers and staff here to know what it’s like to be a student at Creekside,” Sommerfeld explained to the students as they enjoyed their lunch in a quiet collaboration space near the library. “We want to know what you’re experiencing here… I want you to use your voice to help us make Creekside the best school it can be.”
“It’s pretty good here,” said Liam Burrington, noting that he likes his teachers and classmates. Others chimed in to say that their classes are interesting, the Creekside staff is nice, and there are many different clubs and afterschool activities.
The students’ biggest concern? The traffic jam when afterschool activities and intramural sports are wrapping up. The students told Sommerfeld that the line of vehicles often goes out into the street and suggested that the school use both the front and back parking lots for pick-up.
Sommerfeld thanked the students for bringing the problem to her attention and suggesting a solution.
Hearing directly from students is one of the most important aspects of Creekside’s monthly “Leadership Lunch.” Each month, a different group of fifth grade students has lunch and conversation with Sommerfeld or the school’s Assistant Principal Mike Swan. By the end of the school year, every fifth grader will have had that opportunity, because at Creekside, every fifth grader is a school leader.
“Our belief is that all of us are leaders, and we’re all leaders in different ways,” Sommerfeld said. “We see potential in all our kids. They all have different strengths that they can share with others.”
Creekside's fifth-grade leadership program is something younger students aspire to. The program begins in September of each school year, when fifth graders get a special sash during an official ceremony.
“It is amazing in our school that all our kids look forward to being fifth-grade leaders and look forward to getting their sashes. It’s a very powerful moment,” Sommerfeld said.
However, the program also comes with a set of serious responsibilities.
“The hardest thing is all the jobs, because there are a lot of those,” Luke Knotts said. “We clean the library if Ms. Emma needs help, we help outside on the kindergarten playground, and at the beginning of the year, we walk kindergartners to the bus.”
In addition, the leaders greet guests and sit with younger students to help them focus during assemblies and special events. They must model the school’s “I CARE” qualities of Integrity, Collaboration, Attitude, Respect, and Excellence.
“The best thing about being a fifth-grade leader is showing I CARE and doing a bunch of different responsibilities around the school,” Gia Stewart said.
“You have to set a good example for everyone by being quiet in the hall or in the library and by working hard,” Zoey Hall added.
“I thought being a fifth-grade leader would be hard, but it’s pretty easy,” Akmal Adilov said. “It’s pretty fun helping out, and it just goes by fast.”
The leadership program is one of the things Payton Suh will remember most when she goes to middle school next year.
“I’ll remember helping little kids and being a role model to them,” she said.