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School counsellor creates student-led assemblies

Students at Bristow Run Elementary School are given the opportunity to shine, thanks to counsellor, Melissa Leischner. Leischner’s vision, when she started at Bristow Run four years ago, was to make students the focus of school assemblies. To turn ownership of her school assemblies over to the students, she started writing student-led plays about topics such as bullying, diversity, and careers, all of which are part of the counselling curriculum.

The first group of student performers were fourth and fifth graders, selected based on teacher recommendations and interest in public speaking. These students worked hard during their recess time and at home learning their lines and developing their characters. The group performed during lunch periods and school-wide assemblies to the student population, and in the evening for parents and families. The performances were such a huge success that interest grew and the Performing Panthers were born.

The success of this group has not only grown confidence with the current Performing Panthers, but has increased interest in the other students at Bristow Run. While the group continues to thrive on stage, momentum has carried throughout the school. Other students are illustrating comics and writing articles for the school newsletter, speaking on live morning announcements, and serving as guest speakers at various school events.

Leischner explained, “This empowers all students, with greater learning potential, by doing something outside the box.”

Leischner continues her work and has also written a play about diversity for kindergarten students and a play about careers for second grade. Leischner has found that not only is she teaching students presentation and speaking skills, but she is also building relationships with them in the process.

“All students have the potential for greatness. I try to find ways to showcase their abilities and give them opportunities to shine,” she said.