Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Children participate in weekly student council meetings at Arbor Bay School in San Carlos.
Helping others seems to be the unwavering mission of many students who participate in the weekly meetings of the Arbor Bay School’s student council.
The San Carlos private nonprofit school, which serves children with learning challenges and currently has 45 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, hosts meetings nearly every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Its students’ disabilities range from speech and language impairment to high-functioning autism. School Director Susan Rose heads the council and sees it as the voice of the students as a whole.
“These are kids with speech and language impairments, which makes it harder for them to engage socially,” Rose said. “One of the rules is everyone gets to talk. The kids see themselves as strong and capable. I initially didn’t think we’d be raising all this money.”
This is the third year of the council, which takes on bigger monthly projects and other causes. For January, students voted to approve helping raise money to build a school. The group, of about 15, reported raising $563.50 for the Red Cross to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan at its Nov. 21 meeting, planned a canned food drive and wrote letters to service troops.
Students even give up their lunch break to, voluntarily, participate in the meeting, said Julie Lenden, director of development and communications for the school.
One student, Tarek, said his favorite part of the council is making cards, while Liam, another student, said he likes the idea of building a school.
“I like that we vote on decisions,” said Gabby, another student.
Raising money and having fun at the same time are two benefits, said student Leah, while another, Krystal, said she likes that the council helps other people.
Last year, for Presidents Day, the student council came up with an idea to have students write letters to the president. Students were excited to see a response from the White House, Rose said.
Additionally, students host bake sales, pizza drives and other fundraisers for their philanthropic causes. The council has chosen other causes such as helping foster children, animal shelters, Toys for Tots and swim programs.
The school, which is a little more than a decade old, offers individualized instruction in small classroom environments of eight to 14 students, combined with speech and occupational therapy. About 40 to 50 students transition back into mainstream schools every year, Lenden said.
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