WHETHER it’s launching a river raft or a poverty education campaign, Princess Margaret students have been putting their leadership roles to the test.
Now that leadership practice has won students and staff members the BC Leadership Cup.
The BC Association of Student Activity Advisors presented the Surrey secondary school with the cup at its Student Leadership Conference.
Fernanda Luvisotto, head of leadership department at Princess Margaret, says the award was won by students, staff from various leadership classes, clubs and councils working together to make a positive difference within the community.
“This is many years in the making, developing a strong leadership program that offers our student body many opportunities which in turn foster their leadership skills. The students and staff are delighted to be recognized for their accomplishments as they strive to reach their goals all year long,” she adds.
Over the past five years, the school’s leadership program has expanded from one community leadership class to four – two community leadership classes, a recreational leadership class and an intramural leadership class – that collectively enrol about 120 students. The four classes develop common leadership skills in different ways.
Community leadership focuses on community issues, causes or events. For example, in Poverty Awareness Week, students aim to educate the community about the impact of poverty and how it can be prevented or ended. They have obtained signatures on petitions, written to politicians and created videos to challenge other schools in the province to take part.
Recreational leadership is focused on outdoor education and supports the school’s athletics program. Student leaders venture off on camping trips where they work in teams on tasks such as river rafting or cooking a camp meal. In school, they keep score at sporting events, host the annual school pep rally and organize a banquet to recognize the achievements of school athletes throughout the year.
Intramural leadership has resulted in a lunchtime program for the school. For example, a group of student leaders organize and run a Grade 8 volleyball bash for one week. The intramural leadership class create opportunities that engage about 200 students—regardless of athletic ability—in exercise, fun and relationship bonding. This class also hosts the school’s annual Terry Fox Run for cancer research.
Students can also explore leadership through various clubs and councils at the school. The leadership team of teachers Luvisotto, Carolyn Bell, Jason Wilkinson and Ryan Sperling look for different ways to bring the students together, including starting the school year with a day-long leadership retreat of team building and skills activities. The teachers also connect with student leaders to discuss upcoming events and how they can work together.
“Without the support of all other staff members and administrators, student leadership at Princess Margaret would not be a success,” says Luvisotto.
Principal Neder Dhillon helped initiate the growth of student leadership five years ago and provides “endless support and assistance” for the school to continue to develop and strengthen the program, she adds.
(Story and photo courtesy Surrey Schools)