ISM Stories

Student Life Organization®: Turning on Learning and Leadership

An All-School Affair

At the International School of Minnesota (ISM), the SABIS Student Life Organization® (SLO®) is a name you’ll hear often. The reach of our student leaders extends far beyond what people think of when they hear the traditional phrases “student government” or “campus life.” SLO® integrates initiatives between academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities while also teaching students leadership and character-building skills.

Students get involved in the day-to-day experience at ISM by taking on an active role in the development of younger students and their own peers. “I think people on the outside assume the SLO® is just for High School, but it really isn’t. It’s an all-school engagement. Every student has the opportunity to engage in a task, event, or activity throughout the school year.” says Sarah Bianucci, the Student Life Coordinator.

If you spend one day in ISM, it will be obvious to you that our Student Life Organization is at the heart of the school. Sarah adds that “every single day, our prefects in grades 4 and 5 are right here [in the SLO® room]. Our Middle School and High School prefects also have a home base here. The SLO® is every bulletin board, every behind-the-scenes task, the morning announcements, study group coordination, work with AQCs, and the heart of so many school-wide activities.”

The Inner Workings

The SLO® is made up of nine different departments: Academic, Discipline, Management, Sports, Wellness, Activities, Outreach, Lower School, and Social Responsibility.  Each department has its own unique set of responsibilities that empower students of all grade levels to get involved in the day-to-day experience at school.

The SLO® method is simple: create an atmosphere that’s as efficient as it is collaborative. Departments offer equal input into how the year should unfold and how to best unite their school community. They do everything from individualized tutoring and planning important events to emceeing sports games and organizing community service projects.

Head Prefect, Ava Kletti and Deputy Head of Activities, Aayan Iqbal in the newly renovated SLO® Room

Our Head Prefect, junior Ava Kletti states, “This year as Head Prefect, I want to make sure that I am really able to communicate well with all of our deputy heads to ensure that all our goals are achieved and that information is taken from the student body.”

Ava is always asking questions about other students: “‘What are their goals?’ ‘What do they think the SLO® could be doing better?’, ‘What do they want out of the SLO®?’ Then, we want to really implement that into our system.”

“The biggest draw to the SLO® was the community aspect and how much fun we all had together,” but soon the fun became leadership. “The SLO® helps develop the soft skills that aren't as highlighted in classrooms. You learn a lot about delegation, time management, organizational skills, and speaking with adults− which can be scary for younger students! The SLO® really is such a good opportunity to learn how to be an adult and a leader,” Ava adds.

Many school activities, from Homecoming to the Middle School Retreat, are planned by students. As Aayan Iqbal, the Deputy Head of Activities, explains: “I think students have a really good eye as to what other students want and what’s trendy at the moment. Sometimes, I feel like adults can miss that.”

“We like student-led activities and we like students being involved. Teacher involvement is good, but it’s about students making connections with each other and I think that’s the heart of the SLO®.”

Creating New Traditions

Following the release of their new SLO® Room, the team has taken a deep dive into planning even more new initiatives around the school. Today, our leaders have a myriad of new plans for the SLO®.

One of the new initiatives SLO® is most excited about is Huskies & Pups, which kicked off on November 11. “Huskies & Pups is one of our newest initiatives that’s working to really showcase our mentorship between older students and younger students,” says Sarah. What’s exciting about Huskies & Pups is that it bridges the gap between our younger and older students by creating individual, small-group, and all-school mentorship opportunities.

Lower School students play bingo with High School students at this year’s “Huskies & Pups” kickoff event

Huskies & Pups isn’t the only new initiative SLO® has on the table this year. Students are working on the creation of a month-long bullying prevention program with emphasis on information and activities that extend outside the month-long efforts, as well as a schedule of monthly themes to reinforce the safety and happiness of the school community. 

Student discipline is a larger part of one of the SLO®’s annual initiatives. Students work together to create a framework for how to reduce disciplinary infractions and set up a successful framework for classroom expectations, including completing homework and preparing for exams. 

This 2022-23 school year will also feature one all-school Shadow Teaching Day each term. Although Shadow Teaching happens daily within classes, this year, each term will have one day where all periods are taught by student Shadow Teachers, including Preschool and Kindergarten students leading their classmates in activities and lessons. Students in grades 1-12 will lead and teach all classes throughout the entire day. This is rooted in the philosophy that teaching others is the highest level of understanding.

Although students are excited about these new initiatives, there will always be long-lived events that remain at the forefront of our student’s thoughts. For Aayan, like many students, that event is prom.”

Aayan says, “This year, I hope to create a memorable prom. That’s really where my focus is. The seniors have their final prom and it’s one of my last proms, too, so I’m hoping to make all of my prom dreams come true!”

It’s About the Connection

Whether through new initiatives or old traditions, the SLO® team of leaders at our school plays an integral role in the academic and personal growth of our students. As Aayan says, “we like student-led activities and we like students being involved. It’s about students making connections with each other and I think that’s really the heart of the SLO®.” Growth isn’t possible without connection and that’s exactly what our SLO® leaders are here to provide.

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