COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Tanisha Lepine, from left, Raquel Caro, Alexis Rives, Hanna Kalmakoff and Joel Rodriguez pose for a photo at Betty Gibson School on Wednesday. The students have joined the Middle Years Leadership Block for Grade 7 and 8 students at the school.
Betty Gibson School’s new leadership program is giving students a chance to get more involved with their school while preparing them for high school.
"I think it’s really cool," said Tanisha Lepine, a Grade 7 Betty Gibson School student and member of the group. "We’re getting to help other kids out and finding out more about what’s going on in our school."
Lepine is among the six students so far to join the Middle Years Leadership Block for Grade 7 and 8 students.
Students have been gathering for a couple hours every other week this month to help plan and organize events at their school.
One of the goals of the program is also to help prepare students for moving to a new school once they reach Grade 9, according to Betty Gibson School principal Phil Vickers.
"Hopefully by getting their leadership skills, they’ll feel better about themselves … build greater self-esteem that will help prepare them for that Grade 9 transition," he said.
A wide range of topics will also be covered throughout the course of the program, Vickers said.
"All of these topics do fit into the curriculum, so it’s not like we’re just going out and having fun. These all join in with the phys-ed health curriculum, the science curriculum, social studies ... it blends all the curriculums together for these students."
Vickers read about the idea in a magazine that told the story of a high school principal in New Jersey who started a leadership program just for boys. Students were asked to wear business attire to school on certain days and gather for business-type meetings to discuss project ideas for their school.
"We’ve changed it a bit because he was dealing with high school and we’re dealing with middle years kids, but it’s that same idea of helping them see this is what school’s for," Vickers said.
The leadership program will also be adjusted to address issues students are currently facing.
"If we’re witnessing that there’s maybe some peer pressure going on, we can easily put a unit together on peer pressure and ways to deal with it and how to recognize it," said phys-ed teacher Craig Anderson. "It’s kind of open in a sense that if we want to make some changes to it we can really quickly."
So far, students have been trying to raise money for their school’s Terry Fox Run, as well as making arrangements for their upcoming spirit week.
"They’ve been doing all the planning and organizing for spirit week and basically I’m taking a step back and they’re taking the leadership role in the whole thing," Anderson said. "I just kind of oversee the whole thing and they make the decisions how they want to run it and organize it."
The program will also include a career focused unit and a winter survival unit where groups of students will be given different scenarios to help them learn how to survive in the winter, Anderson said.
"We’re also doing a unit on stress and anxiety, how to handle those situations with them leaving and going to a new school, how to deal with things like that when there’s a lot of stress and anxiety and just ways to prepare themselves for that next step."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 26, 2013