Second-graders at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton have been learning about United States government in their social studies classes and were recently asked what they would do if they were president.
Not surprisingly, the answers varied greatly. Some students thought of themselves or their families first, while others said they'd devote their efforts to the entire country. Many encompassed a number of priorities.
While legislators across the country continue to battle, going head-to-head advocating for their own top priorities, the RTR second-graders offered their own ideas on leadership.
"The project is actually an accumulation of many activities that we have done in the classroom," said second-grade teacher Betty Van Keulen. "The students really get into the past presidents of the United States when we do our money unit in math. We examine coins and determine which presidents are on the heads and what buildings are on the tails."
Along with fellow second-grade teacher Deanna Larson, Van Keulen likes to throw in trivia as the class progresses through the unit. They also have posters, books and First Start biographies on the presidents for the students to read. In social studies units, students have learned about their country, its government and the leader of the nation.
"We loved the site on PBS, 'If I Were President for a Day,'" Larson said. "Our classes enjoyed selecting different options of things they would do. They had a great time predicting what they would do if they were president."
The following are some examples of how RTR second-graders would finish the phrase: "If I were President of the United States I would..."
"help people with their jobs and help children learn how to read. I would swim in my pool. I would plant a garden with lots of flowers. I would ride in a limo to a playground and play with the children."
"pass better laws, let my family live with me, not order people around and help people in my country. I would go to schools and teach them about our country's laws."
"help people all over the world. I would donate food to people who need food. I would have my very own library, theater and private jet."
"send some money to the schools and start a fund for the sick people."
"help our army and our states and schools."
"I would make sure nobody breaks the law."
Van Keulen said the second-graders are also studying Abraham Lincoln and George Washington during the month of February. The PBS website activities fit nicely into the curriculum.
"We do the President for a Day activity on the SMART Board first as a class," she said. "Then the students can do it individually on our classroom websites. Each child can be President for a Day and make decisions just like a real president. That leads us to the writing project. It's always interesting to read the students' comments."
A number of students were compassionate about world peace and said they'd try to avoid going to war.
"make fair laws and give the schools more money. Give people who do not have a home, one. Give people who do not have money, some. Tell people no more wars."
"make sure there would be no more wars."
"stop the war. Why? Because so people don't get killed. And give farmers money so they can fix their crops."
"help the army, share the White House with others and make peace for everyone in the world."
"take a limo to an arcade. Then I would send the Navy to Cuba and set the people free and then I would take a nap. Ring, ring...I would answer the phone and be asked to think of a solution to save the people. I would send the Army and it would work!"
"make the world a better place, solve problems and make life easier."
One student wanted to see the Vikings and a few said they'd give speeches. Others wanted to build new swimming pools or a new playground. A number of students also showed their compassion for children and animals.
"tell people what happened in the Civil War. I would help S.W.A.T. keep people safe and help hungry animals."
"have more books. I would help homeless children find homes. I would buy a company to help the people who are hungry and thirsty."
"send people to help other people who have lost their homes in storms. I would send money to poor people. I would send toys to kids."
While the words of wisdom from the future leaders of America might seem insignificant to some, a lot of people, including those currently leading the country, could learn a few things from them. Perhaps, one second-grader said it best.
"be good and help other people and kids. I would be nice. I would listen."