Fifth graders at Lincoln Elementary School are leading by example and learning from each other.
The school introduced the Lincoln Leaders program at the start of this year. Teachers picked 18 5th graders to take on extra responsibilities and help their fellow students. Lincoln Elementary Principal Lacy Mitchell said the program gels with the school’s Great Expectations designation.  
“Part of GE is a climate of mutual respect,” Mitchell said. “It focuses on accountability, and modeling [behavior] for students.”
The selected students helped make posters for the school’s homecoming week and participated in the district’s homecoming parade. Students rotate duties every week, and there’s always a chance of a student losing the privilege and another student taking their place.
 “There can be some things we’re going to ask the students to do that may have them out of their comfort zone,” Mitchell said. “Like the homecoming parade. Most of them hadn’t done anything like that before.”
The Lincoln Leaders help direct the flow of student traffic every morning, help tidy up the school hallways and bathrooms and encourage other kids to do the same.
“They have things they help with in the morning,” Mitchell said. “Like, if someone needs help, they can go and get the appropriate person.”
Assistant Principal Amanda Cramer said the students voted on wearing badges instead of vests.
“It’s a sense of responsibility and ownership,” Cramer said. “They help anybody in the bathrooms who need help. If there’s a problem, they come get an adult.”
Cramer said the group was especially helpful early in the year when students were still getting used to the rhythm of the school day and students would occasionally wander off course.
“Since we’ve kind of incorporated peer mentors, we haven’t had any issues,” Cramer said.
Along with learning life and social skills and how to greet others, the students also help direct students during drop-off and pick-up times.
“Even the leaders, sometimes you have to explain things to them simply because they don’t have the experience,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the group has even considered branching out. Students will help during family nights at the school, but Mitchell said the administrators are considering adding a babysitting area for visiting families during events outside of school hours. The students would assist, but the area would still be supervised by an adult.
“Sometimes we have families that don’t come because those options aren’t available,” Mitchell said.
Cramer said one second grade student drafted up a proposal advocating for a second Lincoln Leader group for younger students.
“What’s so funny is that we hadn’t had it going more than a week before the second graders wanted to do it too,” Cramer said.