Greenwood ambassadors serve as role models within the La Grande School District

By on Friday, January 5th, 2024 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

LA GRANDE — (From the La Grande School District Newsletter.  Author Trish Yerges) Greenwood Elementary School has a fifth-grade leadership program that invites qualified students to act as school ambassadors among the student body during school hours and at assembly programs. These ambassadors promote good behaviors as they interact with the student body, and in the process, they encourage all students to uphold Greenwood virtues.  

Jen Melendez, now in her second year as school principal, said that the program was established about nine years ago by Ellen Lester, district library coordinator. Lester saw a Facebook post about a similar program, and she worked with the principal at that time to create a program that worked for Greenwood.

“We usually have 12 to 15 fifth-grade ambassadors each year,” Melendez said. “It’s a coveted position, and they have to maintain their role model status among other students in order to continue to be an ambassador in the school.”  

Students are selected through a vetting process and to be selected they must meet standards consistent with the leadership program and its mission. Those interested in participation will usually start the application process during the last month of their fourth grade year.

“Parents have to approve that their child can join the program, and teachers must sign off to verify that the student is a good candidate for this program,” Melendez said.

The program is led by the school’s library clerk, Jen Wilcox, who teaches the leadership training for the new ambassadors. Their duties start in the morning before classes start. That’s when the Greenwood ambassadors don their ambassador vests and receive their assignments.

“They are in the hallway in the morning, where they give out pride cards to students showing appropriate behavior in the hallway,” Melendez said. “It’s a big deal for the kids to get a pride card from an ambassador, and the kids feel really good about that.”

The purpose of the pride cards is to acknowledge when students are exhibiting the Greenwood virtues. Such recognition fosters even more good behaviors in the younger students and hopefully inspires them to reach out to be an ambassador when they reach their fifth-grade level.  

There are several service duties that the ambassadors are trained to perform, and they are assigned to certain areas around the school. There are usually six ambassadors working in both the first and second shift. They take turns so things are orderly and everyone gets to serve.

“They give school tours to new students attending for the first time, and they help set up all the chairs for the student body during assembly programs,” Melendez said. “They also do other projects around the school to display our virtues for Greenwood.”

Greenwood virtues include respect, responsibility, integrity, self-discipline, perseverance, citizenship, courage, compassion, and academic independence. In these virtues the Greenwood ambassadors are role models for the younger students.

“The ambassadors are students who have a service attitude, and they show the virtues that we always project at our school,” Melendez said. The ambassadors appear to have a good effect on the behavior of other students, especially in the hallways and when convening for a school assembly. When fourth-grade students enter their second semester of school, Melendez usually notes an uptick of virtuous behaviors from those students aspiring for this privileged status.

This character-building program is designed to give kids a mindset of citizenship and leadership so that they will strive for other leadership opportunities when they get to Middle School.

“This has been a great program for our fifth graders to learn leadership skills, build their own kind of traits, and help younger students build those character traits as well,” Melendez said