Students recognize community leaders

Published 12:55 am Thursday, February 21, 2019

Opp Elementary School partnered with the Liberty Learning Foundation to honor several community heroes yesterday at their Leadership Program.

Students lined the halls waving American flags to show appreciation for community heroes including firemen, police officers, elected officials, ambulance workers and teachers.

OES assistant principal Christy Harrell said that leadership is an important characteristic they want to instill in their students.

“Leadership is one of the biggest things that we try to teach our kids,” Harrell said. “We are a Leader in Me school so we try to instill those seven habits every day. Throughout the year they learn about what it takes to be a good leader.”

Last year, OES honored area veterans during their annual leadership program. This year they took the time to honor their community heroes.

“We are trying to instill a sense of pride in our nation and our community,” Harrell said. “We were able to tie it in with the Liberty Learning Foundation and it was a perfect fit.”

Each grade level during the day had a community service project to help either around the community or show appreciation to their community heroes.

“First grade talked about how some students don’t have snack,” Harrell said. “So for their community service project they brought in a bunch of snacks and drinks and put them in a bucket in each classroom in the whole school so students who don’t have a snack can pick something from the bucket. Second grade talked about how teachers always get gifts, but there are several school workers get left behind. For their community service project they made several goodie bags for the janitors, lunchroom workers and bus drivers to show that they are appreciated as well.”

Harrell believes that having programs like these make a difference in her students’ lives.

“It is sad to say, but a lot of students’ parents don’t work, so they don’t get to see someone get up and go to work,” Harrell said. “So this is an opportunity for those students to learn and see that there are several things out there that they can do in the future. We really wanted to tie in community service so we could teach the students that it really isn’t all about you, it’s about doing something for your community.”

Fourth graders from OES had the chance to take a field trip and visit with local businesses.

“They are going to be able to see all of the behind-the-scenes things at the fire department, police department and local businesses,” Harrell said. “They’re visiting Young’s Florist so they can see how everything works there, The Opp News, to City Hall so they can see the mayor and hopefully some city councilmen and to the depot to learn about the chamber of commerce. We are doing this so they can hopefully learn about what all they can do to serve the community.”

Harrell said that it is important for the students to run the entire program during the day so they can learn how to be a leader.

“Mr. Short and I don’t get on the podium and talk at all,” Harrell said. “We try to make it where they are the ones running the program so they can see how it feels to be a leader. I mean, they present the awards and they are the emcees. It was a completely student led program. We give them this opportunity to let their little light shine.”