Oak View Elementary is first in district with student council

Photos by Daniel Jackovino
The newly elected student council at Oak View Elementary School are, from left, foreground, Lukas Gershman, Dexter Miller, Karina Bernal, Stella Obiedzinski and Nico Penda; and, background, Sofia Lopez-Catala, Henry Brown, Aiden Bento, Trisha Smith-Bermudez and Neev Mehta.

Oak View Elementary School has recently elected a student council.

What is perhaps remarkable is that it is the only student council presently in a Bloomfield elementary school.

Linda Lo, the first-year principal, said she wanted to build on the school’s high standards by giving her students a voice and set having a student council as one goal. At the time, she said she did not know if any other district elementary school had one. The student council candidates’ campaign speeches were on Flip Grid, a platform available to the students, and elections were held Nov. 6. The advisor to the council is the school media specialist, Patricia Ingianni-D’Avanzo.

Seventy students, third- to sixth-graders, showed an interest in running for the 12 offices open. These students were required to write an essay on why they wanted to be a candidate and how they would improve the school. Additionally, they had to collect recommendations from teachers who, in turn, looked at their overall skills and attendance record. Forty-nine students were selected to run. The voters were third- to sixth-graders.

Campaign posters, with photographs of the candidates and snappy sayings decorated the hallway of the one-storied school during October. Key chains, stickers and even shirts were distributed to would-be supporters. The council will meet periodically during recess.

The elected student council officers are as follows: Aiden Bento, president; Henry Brown, vice-president; Ella Sugiyama, secretary; and Lukas Gershman, treasurer. Class representatives: Trisha Smith-Bermudez, sixth-grade; Aki Sugiyama, fifth-grade; Neev Mehta, fourth-grade; Stella Obiedzinski, third-grade; Nico Peneda, second-grade; Sofia Lopez-Catala, first-grade; Dexter Miller, kindergarten and Karina Bernal, Applied Behavior Analysis class.

Here is what the winning candidates said to garner votes:

Aiden said he would make a good president because he was smart, quick-thinking and was unafraid to step-up in class when necessary. He would advocate for extracurricular activities and create a tutoring club.

Henry, campaigning for vice-president, said he would definitely try to have basketballs and books outside for recess. A bike rack was coming, he said.
Secretary Ella wanted the school to be a better community.

“I’m a cheerleader,” she said. “I’m kind and I’m caring, so let me cheer for you as secretary.”

Treasurer Lukas said being treasurer is not the type of position someone can step into without the right skills in math and an understanding of how the school works.

“My math scores are high, so you know I know my numbers,” he said.

Sixth-grade rep Tricia said she would not make any decisions for just her own good.

Fifth-grade rep Aki wanted to bring students’ ideas to the council so that they did not have to attend the meeting and instead enjoy recess.

Neev, the fourth-grade rep, said he would get more footballs, soccer balls and jump ropes for recess. He would also advocate for a student/teacher kickball match.

Stella, the third-grade rep, promised that student ideas would be heard. Nico, the second-grade rep, held a hockey stick with a NY Ranger banner behind him and invoked Wayne Gretsky in his speech. Sophia, the K-2 rep, said as kids, they all make mistakes.

“The important thing is to learn from the mistakes,” she said.

Dexter, the kindergarten rep, said he would explain to the council what kindergarteners wanted. Karina, the ABA rep, said she would be a voice for people who needed a voice.

Oak View has 365 students.