Leadership definitions vary

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Students take part in some warm-up activities as part of Palliser's "Be U(nique)" Student Leadership Conference at Vulcan Prairieview Elementary School.

VULCAN – A common theme brought students together here from the far corners of Palliser Regional Schools. The fact the leadership conference was titled “Be U(nique),” wasn’t lost on Chase Green, however.

“My favourite part of the day was listening to all the cool presentations and how everybody has a certain way of being a leader, but they all tie together,” said the Grade 5 student from Brant Christian School.

More than 275 students in Grades 4-6 met at Vulcan Prairieview Elementary School Thursday to share the many ways they help instill leadership traits at their particular school. Like the snowflake cutouts which adorned the school’s walls, each student had their own unique take on what being a leader is all about.

Green’s schoolmate, Jed Rodriguez, said a leader is someone who is a role model and someone you can look up to.

“Whenever you are down, he’s always there to lift you up,” said the Grade 5 student.

Teagan Skretting, a Grade 5 student at R.I. Baker Middle School in Coaldale, said leadership is all about being honest and making sure you set an example for younger students.

“It’s encouraging others and helping them, like saying ‘come on, good job, you can do it,’ ” said Myca Tebbutt, a Grade 4 student from Menno Simons Christian School in Calgary

The day began with greetings from the Palliser Board of Trustees, and some key messages about leadership from a trio of students who helped organize a similar conference for Grade 7-12 students, “Discover U,” last November.

Stepping forward to take a leadership role can be a little intimidating at first, and Grace Gunderson admitted she never saw her potential until a teacher assured her she had what it takes.

“I see so much potential in this room,” said the Picture Butte High School Grade 10 student, who also spoke of the importance of leaders celebrating the successes of all those around them, and not only their own.

Fareeha Siddiqui and Fatima Iqbal, Grade 11 students at Calgary Islamic School, Akram Jomaa Campus, talked about the importance of communication. They also had the young students do the wave to illustrate how the small things they do as leaders can make a difference.

“You were chosen to be leaders and you started much younger than us, so give yourselves a pat on the back,” said Iqbal.

Half of the students took in classroom presentations by various schools on the leadership initiatives they have initiated, ranging from Pink Shirt Day to a financial literacy program and school spirit days. At the same time the others learned through play – with carnival games including “Fishin’ for Leadership,” “Synergy Blanket Activity” and “Character Traits Charades”– before the two groups switched places.

“My favourite part was. . . lunch,” said Grade 6 Menno Simons student Mackenzie Miller, with a smile. “And I liked helping my teacher run the bowling station.”

Pat Rivard, Associate Superintendent Education Services, wrapped up the celebration by having all the students and staff gather in a large circle.

“You know what I see?” he asked, as he surveyed the crowd. “I see our future.”

Rivard also referred to the globe’s current state of unrest and the growing fractions which separate, instead of unite.

“Look at our Palliser family. We are from everywhere in the world, and, boy, can we do a lot together,” he said.