Palliser high school students set to explore their leadership strengths

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Student leaders from Heritage Christian Academy and Calgary Islamic School Akram Jomaa Campus worked together last week to prepare name tags for Wednesday's event.

Nearly 550 Grade 7-12 students from across Palliser Regional Schools will attend “Discover U: Find the Strength in Us,” a student-led leadership conference.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday at the University of Lethbridge. The 1st Choice Centre for Sport and Wellness will serve as the location for opening and closing comments and the keynote address. Classrooms in Physical Education building and the adjacent Anderson Hall will house 10, 45-minute breakout sessions at 11:15 a.m. and repeated at 12:30 p.m.

Nine of the breakout sessions will be led by high school students from Palliser schools on various aspects of leadership. Students from Coalhurst High School, for example, will lead a session on “Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone”; Kate Andrews High School (Coaldale) students will discuss how to create a culture of gratitude; and County Central High (Vulcan) students will lead a session on “What are Your Values and How to do They Impact School Culture.” Other sessions will include Calgary Islamic School students leading a session called “You are Not Alone,” and Calgary Christian Secondary School students promising to get out the Weed Whackers in a session on “Getting Rid of Old Thinking and Being More Innovative.”

The keynote address at 9:45 a.m. will feature Phil Boyte, founder of Learning for Living, Inc., which supports the development of positive school climate and culture. He will work with the student leaders on Tuesday to fine tune their presentations for the larger audience.

Wednesday’s event will include time from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., for students from 17 Palliser schools to work in school groups to develop their own action plan which might involve projects within their school, in the larger community or even national or international activism.

The lone breakout session not led by current high school students will feature 2016 Calgary Christian Secondary graduate Andrew te Linde, one of the emcees of last year’s Discover U leadership conference and recipient of an $80,000 Schulich Leader Scholarship. He will be joined by Palliser Career and Academic Counsellor Charlene Foster in a session on the advantages to being involved in leadership beyond high school.

The conference is part of an ongoing effort to support student leadership in Palliser schools whether through Leader in Me programs or student councils or clubs.