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Teton Middle School student leadership hosts many school-wide activities and service projects, including the successful Latinos in Action stocking stuffer gift driver. The club was able to donate 68 full stockings to Subs for Santa this week.

This year the Teton Middle School Student Council and Latinos in Action are devoted to keeping all the kids at TMS engaged, involved, and having fun, COVID be darned.

“Even though we’re going through the pandemic, school feels more united, because we’re doing a lot more activities that make us feel engaged,” said council member Sage Allen.

The mission of the two clubs is to form a cohesive student leadership team. The council is more focused on fun, while Latinos in Action is a service group, but there’s plenty of overlap in their projects.

“These clubs are a pretty good representation of the student body,” council advisor Jennie Beach said. “They have the full spectrum of interests and try to engage the entire student body. I think it’s pretty awesome.”

In the past few months alone, the clubs have organized a community clean-up that doubled as a welcoming party for new sixth graders, decorated the halls for Halloween, held contests, and created tutorials in English and Spanish on how to use the different programs required for online learning, so that both students and parents feel more comfortable tackling schoolwork.

Latinos in Action just held its second annual stocking stuffer drive and presented 68 stockings full of gifts for kids to Subs for Santa on Dec. 12. The student council, with donations from the Victor Valley Grocer and Arnold Farms, is assembling holiday meals for families. And just to keep the mood light in the halls of the middle school, the grades are engaged in an intense battle for who can decorate the best classroom door.

Eighth grader Alexis Hernandez masterminded the idea of Pay to Play, Latinos in Action’s new fundraising game that has already enabled them to buy stockings for Subs for Santa, and lets kids blow off some steam at the same time. Students can buy $1 raffle tickets and the winner is allowed to play (pre-approved) video games for a brief period during the day, usually an experience that is verboten at school.

Kayleen Diaz, also in eighth grade, explained that some kids feel more comfortable asking friends for help than going to a teacher, so she has proposed setting up study groups that offer peer-to-peer tutoring.

“They’re fantastic on having an idea and then moving forward quickly with it,” Beach said. “It really makes a difference.”

But, Leo Cuellar noted, Latinos in Action and student council aren’t just implementing their own ideas; other kids at the school are always welcome to offer suggestions. “We definitely like to have all the students’ input, so it’s fun for the whole school,” he said.

“This school year has been difficult, so we’re trying to focus on the positive and make things fun,” Gracie Kincaid added. “I think that’s what we all need right now.”