He has only been in office a couple of weeks, but it was clear that the kids were already connecting with Skye Harrell as he made his way through the outdoor corridors at Chasco Elementary.
"Hi, president," they called out to their newly elected student council leader as he passed by on his way to the school media center.
"That happens all the time," said Skye, 10, as he waved back. "But the people that know me, they just call me Skye."
If all goes according to plan, the nation should know this morning who the next president will be. But in schools throughout Pasco County, elected officials have been sworn in and are already rolling up their sleeves to take care of the duties of the student council.
"We're like the government of Pasco schools," said Skye, who campaigned hard with the slogan "Keep your hopes and dreams high and vote for the best president — Skye."
"It's important to let the students know that they count," he said. "Mostly our job is to make the school better and help (students) feel good about themselves."
"I think we can be good role models for other students, too," said student council vice president Cierra Ridgely, 10. "We can help them to do better in school."
And on occasion, the leaders prompt students to adopt roads, sponsor food and clothing drives, and raise money to benefit their schools.
Last year the Chasco Elementary student council sold Valentine lollipops to raise money for new playground equipment, Skye said, noting that one of the things on his agenda is pushing for more vegetarian offerings in the school cafeteria. But the coming holiday fundraiser must be tackled first.
On the other side of the county, the student council at West Zephyrhills Elementary has sponsored Family Movie Nights and raised money for a picnic table and display bars so that student artwork could be hung in the cafeteria. The children have also been particularly active in reaching out into the community.
This month they will hold a gas card raffle to raise money for Children's Hospice Services. They will also take part in the Zephyrhills Relay for Life, said guidance counselor Jennifer Asaro, who with Valerie MacLeod sponsors the student council.
They already have their first community project wrapped up. A couple of weeks ago, student council members donned hairnets and aprons and baked cookies in the school cafeteria for the local Meals on Wheels program.
"I think it was quite fun," said West Zephyrhills Elementary vice president Sarah First, 9. "I make cookies at home with my mom a lot. It's a nice way to pass the time, and we're helping the community. I like helping people a lot."