Netanya Castillo, Features Writer
This last Friday on February 24, Gator Leadership Club (GLC) hosted their highly anticipated Grade 8 Leadership Conference. For weeks prior to the event, the students that comprise GLC feverishly prepared for the opportunity to train the leaders of tomorrow. The conference attendees were hand-picked by their teachers who saw leader potential in them.
“The reason I enjoy doing this conference is because I think it’s important that students have the ability to be around other students who are leaders and learning to be leaders because then they can be inspired.”
First on the schedule was an introduction from the emcees, and vice principal, Ms. Wood, elaborating on the importance of the conference. After that, the Grade 8s were able to mingle through icebreakers and other games. Once they were more comfortable around each other GLC sent them on their way to their first workshop.
In total there are four workshops: Public Speaking, Effective Collaboration, Involvement and Personal Management. For the time allotted, Grade 8s only went to two of the four workshops.
“These workshops introduce Grade 8s to leadership qualities and gives them a sense of empowerment. The purpose of this conference is to teach them how to be responsible as they build into the next few years.”
Mackenzie Dong, Member of GLC
During each seminar, students were given the chance to learn leadership qualities through related activities and motivational discussions. The Public Speaking attendees were taught to project their voices and be more confident, while the attendees of Effective Collaboration were taught to combine varying opinions and work as a team. Involvement also taught the Grade 8s to become engaged with their communities and give back. In addition to that, Personal Management instilled organizational behaviours and productive time management in the future leaders.
“The workshops were really fun and I enjoyed all the games and ideas. I feel like this conference definitely helped me to become a stronger leader!”
Paige Neufield, Grade 8 Attendee
After the workshops, the Grade 8s met with three WGSS alumni: Jason Manning, Tara Teng, and Bonnie Tulloch. The speakers came to the conference to show how they became leaders in society and to inspire teenagers to be successful in their own way.
The first speaker was Jason Manning who graduated in 2008 and went on to work. Jason disclosed that after graduation he was not sure about what he wanted to do. Eventually he found his passion through his first cycling trip. From there he became inspired to cycle around the world and participate in running marathons and other competitive races.
“High school students always hear people tell them to follow their passions, but sometimes they don’t always know what their passions are, or sometimes they have multiple passions. Instead of telling teenagers to follow their passions, I tell them to chase their curiosities.”
The second speaker was Tara Teng who was home schooled until the age of 15 and later graduated at WGSS. At the Grade 8 Leadership Conference she told the students that life does not necessarily take you where you think you are supposed to go. Tara also revealed that she has received her degree in education, worked with the government to pass laws relating to human trafficking, and won the Miss World Canada pageant in 2012. Tara inspired the attendees of the conference to do something significant, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
“You can make a difference just by saying, ‘Yes.’ What we do matters. What good is knowledge unless we use it to do something good? You don’t know whose answer to prayer you may be.”
Tara Teng, WGSS Alumni
The final speaker at the Grade 8 Leadership conference was Bonnie Tulloch. She is currently working towards her PhD in Children’s Literature. When she first told her family that she wanted to pursue a degree in children’s literature, many of the important people in her life were against it. People told her that she would not make money in that field or that that degree has no value. However, at the end of the day she built up the courage to kindly tell the people she loved that she was going to pursue what inspired her.
“If you think about the biggest leaders in the world, they’re actually the biggest losers because they all failed before they got to where they wanted to be. You have to lose sometimes to win in the big picture.”
Bonnie Tulloch, WGSS Alumni
Because of the workshops, speakers, and experiences, every person at the conference was inspired to take responsibility for their actions, speak with confidence, manage wisely, work collaboratively and better themselves personally. Through and through, everyone that was part of the Grade 8 Leadership Conference, GLC members included, became better leaders that day.
“Seeing the youth lead the youth gives us all hope for the leaders of tomorrow.”
Ms. McGivern, Supervising Teacher