CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Four students from Humphreys West Elementary School raised their right hand and took the oath of office after the school’s general election Nov. 3.
Congratulating the appointed officers, Col. Seth Graves, United States Army Garrison Humphreys commander, expressed to the student’s that it doesn't matter if they are 9, 10 or 11-years-old they can make a difference inside their school as well as in the Humphreys community.
“Can an elementary school student make a difference,” asked Graves? “Well 11-year-old Orion would say yes.”
He told the audience the story of 11-year-old Orion Jean who created the organization, “A Race to Kindness.” The 11-year-old was named 2021 Time Magazine’s “Kid of the Year” for his organization which provided meals for more than 100,000 families across the United States and 500,000 books to children with none at home. He even wrote his first book about leadership.
“This was to inspire kids just like you, to lead with kindness,” said Graves.
The event took place in the school’s cafeteria. Parents, teachers, siblings, and fellow council members watched as newly appointed Matthew Lim (president), Enoch Chung (vice president), Sakura Romos (secretary), and Zoey Blando (treasurer), stepped-up to the podium, raised their right-hand and took the oath of office pledging to faithfully discharge their duty to the best of their knowledge and abilities. Parents took out their phones to record as their little osprey officers declared, “yes, I am ready.”
“You are now in the same place Orion was,” said Graves.
He told the council members they could make a difference for the children at school and find creative ways to help Humphreys Soldiers.
“Could you imagine that?” asked Graves. “Children helping Soldiers – it could happen, and you could be the ones.”
Lim was one of those council members on the stage with Graves, who had a vision to help the student body that elected him.
Lim is an aspiring architect, artist, and Lego maker who ran his campaign on wanting to make the school a better place by holding more fundraisers and creating more clubs for the student body. He also wanted to create a student and teacher voice box to ensure everyone has a chance to have their voice heard.
Sitting on the stage with the council members was Jung Jang-seon, mayor of the city of Pyeongtaek, celebrating the young representatives as they took their oath of office.
Jung stated it was the first time he had been to one of the garrison’s elementary schools and he was honored to be there celebrating the young leaders and would not forget the experience. He mentioned how impressed he was to see the children’s parents show support to both the garrison command team and their children. With a big smile, he said he appreciated how the commander and principal highlighted the importance of learning leadership in school. He also said he wanted to go back to the local city of Pyeongtaek schools and recommend doing ceremonies like the one at HWES.
Edgar Romero, HWES principal walked up to the podium, thanks Jung for attending with a deep bow and smile. Romero then wrapped his hands around the mic and thanked Angie Dunkin and Vanessa Arebalos, student council’s co-advisors and Trabille Cobb, administrative interim, for all their hard work and guidance they gave the children during the election cycle.
Romero said it is important to learn leadership at a young age because with leadership tools children can become healthy leaders who can create better companies and industries in the future.