It’s no secret that Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts fourth grader Hamilton Salinas loves his school.
When asked what he enjoys most, Hamilton barely hesitates before rattling off the number of opportunities and clubs that have been made available to him, courtesy of the school’s participation in the A+ School program which integrates arts into all areas of curriculum and instruction.
Now, thanks to their school’s first Leadership Day, he added, everyone else can learn what makes Benton Heights Elementary so special.
“I’m just going to put it out there – Benton Heights is the best school in the world,” he said. “That’s why this Leadership Day is so great because everyone else is getting a chance to see us and see why we love our school. Everyone should want their kids to go here because it really is a great school.”
The inaugural Benton Heights Elementary Leadership Day provided an opportunity for the school to celebrate its accomplishments, show off the progress students have made with their academics as well as showcase their talents and leadership skills. It also allowed community members to see how Leader in Me — the whole-school transformation process that teaches leadership skills and creates a culture of student empowerment — drives the culture of the school.
During the event, student leaders served as tour guides and escorted local business and community leaders around the school while student ambassadors were on hand to talk about the school’s Leader in Me principles as well as their classroom’s vision, mission and goals.
“Throughout the year, we also post positions for leadership roles that will help move our school forward. Forty percent of our students had a role on Leadership Day, and they had to apply and be hired for those roles. Next year, we’re aiming for 100 percent,” said Benton Heights Elementary Principal Dr. Candice Boatright. “Our goal is to have each student in a role by the end of the year and for each staff member to sponsor a role.”
A Leadership Day at an arts-focused school wouldn’t be complete without the students putting their talents on display. Throughout the day, students in every grade level participated in a variety of performances that featured the school’s band, orchestra, dance team, chorus, robotics team and step team. The drama club performed excerpts from the Lion King Kids musical and students also participated in a pep rally and talent show.
“I really like having the opportunity to show everyone that no matter what people say, we really are a great school and we love our school. The students at our school are really involved and it’s going to help us when we move to middle school,” said fifth-grader Casey Sanchez, minutes before she took to the stage and earned a standing ovation during the talent show. “I love having the opportunity to sing and play music and I’m so grateful to go here because I have the opportunity to do that here.”
When asked what she hoped students would take away from their inaugural Leadership Day, Dr. Boatright said her goal was for them to have pride in their school.
“And for our visitors, I want them to see that we have great things going on here,” she said. “I want the community to know how great we are, that we’d love for them to volunteer here and that we appreciate all of their support.”