SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An assembly on Monday at Garfield Elementary School celebrated the school’s international distinction as a “Lighthouse” school.
“A lighthouse has a really bright light that you can see from everywhere, and we know that Garfield Elementary is a big bright light in your neighborhood, in our city and in our state,” Sioux Falls School District Superintendent Jane Stavem said at an assembly at the school Monday.
It’s an honor shared by around 670 schools around the world. No other school in South Dakota enjoys the distinction.
“It’s amazing,” first-grade teacher Diana Johnson said. “When we found out, the co-coordinator came to my room and told me and I was like, I started crying and my kids were like, ‘What’s wrong? And I was like, ‘Oh, they’re happy tears.’ It’s been a hard process but we got there.”
Johnson helped implement the “Leader in Me” program that paved the way for this honor.
“We bring in our own aspect to it,” Johnson said. “We create our own lessons, do our own activities to show these students that they can be leaders and that there’s nothing that can stop them.”
Leadership without context or examples might sometimes seem like only a buzzword, but fifth-grader Nyah Cano knows what it is.
“Leadership means that you can help people, even not being asked, and you can do the right thing,” Cano said.
Fourth-grader Presleigh Hosman says leadership is about “habits.” She’s found a home here at Garfield.
“When I was in kindergarten and I was brand-new here, I didn’t know anything about the school, nothing and then I just knew just by looking at everybody and the school, I just knew that the school would become a really nice school and I would want to stay here until I have to leave,” Hosman said.
Their principal also sees the light.
“We see the genius in every single person who enters our doors and look for opportunities to provide them with leadership opportunities that really highlight what they’re very good at,” principal Kristin Skogstad said.
The “Lighthouse” honor comes from FranklinCovey Education, which offers leadership programming.