TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Students at Harrison Elementary School held a Leadership Day this afternoon at the school. About 100 people – parents and community representatives among them – attended the two-hour event.

“It’s a chance for the kids to show off what they’ve learned,” said school counselor Anne Jensen.

Students did just that, welcoming visitors and escorting them to the assembly hall where the presentation started at 1:30 p.m.

Students have been reading the books “The Leader in Me” and “The 8 Habits of Happy Kids,” incorporating the leadership principles into activities at school.

“They learn leadership by doing,” Jensen said.

Students can "apply" for jobs at the school that help them take on more leadership roles.

In some cases particular “jobs” are created for students to give them experience using a certain leadership habit. A student may come up with a project idea, apply for the job, and then they are “hired” to get it done. If they do a good job, they are commended for it. If they fall short, they are reprimanded or put on “probation” just as a real employer would do.

Some of the jobs students participate in are maintaining flowerbeds or monitoring the bathrooms to make sure items are stocked and the facilities are clean. One of their favorite projects, Jensen said, has been making placemats and Valentine’s Day cards for area nursing homes.

Students in grades K-5 participated in Friday’s Leadership Day. Even the youngest students had a chance to take charge by leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterward, several students spoke about the leadership habits they’ve been learning and applying at school and at home.

Leadership Day at the school started about three years ago after students read the book “The Leader in Me,” which uses seven habits of effective leadership from the late educator and businessman Stephen Covey.

“Now we’ve learned there are eight habits,” Jensen said – “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

The other habits the students highlighted in their presentation Friday were “be proactive”; “begin with the end in mind”; “put first things first”; “think win-win”; “seek first to understand, then be understood”; “synergize”; and “sharpen the saw.”

Jensen said the principals in the book worked well for a school in Carey, so Harrison decided to adopt them. Many schools across the country are using the book.

School Principal Melissa Ardito addresses the crowd on Friday, noting that the leadership habits students are learning are part of the "culture and climate" at the school. It also was announced Friday that Ardito has been named Rookie Principal of the Year.

The habits are not part of a program, said principal Melissa Ardito, of whom it was announced during the presentation that she was named Idaho’s Rookie Principal of the Year. “It is a culture, a climate at our school. It impacts everything.”

Students said since adopting the habits there is less need for discipline at the school and their peers seem happier.

After the presentation, the crowd split into groups and students led them on a tour of the school, explaining more about what they’ve been learning and doing.

The Friday event was especially important for low-income students who don’t have the same means as other students might to attend extracurricular leadership events, Jensen said. It was a way for them to showcase what they’ve been learning.

“It’s been a wonderful thing at our school,” she said.