ASB reaches out to local youth through Learning to Lead

Valerie Kramer, Content Editor/Print Manager

About 100 enthusastic fifth through eighth grade students flocked to the Meruelo Athletic Center (MAC) on Nov. 11 to attend the annual Learning to Lead event. 

Learning to Lead has been an annual staple of MD leadership for seven years and is primarily run by ASB’s Learning to Lead commission, which plans the event four months in advance.

According to junior Nickolet Smiggs, a Learning to Lead Commissioner, the theme of this year’s event centered on the idea that “it’s not about being the best in the world, it’s about being the best for it.”

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but it’s about doing the best thing for the world and making your positive mark on it,” senior Head Commissioner Lily Schuda said.

After arrival at 9 a.m, students were ushered into the MAC to hear a keynote presentation by Scott Backovich, a youth motivational speaker. The day continued with educational sessions that taught the middle schoolers about leadership and communication skills.

The themes of the two leadership training sessions this year were “Creating Collaborative Work Environments” and “Be the Best Version of Yourself.” The lessons were organized and taught by ASB students, who were tasked with creating the curriculum for the session they will be teaching to the younger students. In return for this work put in, the leaders received 20 direct service hours.

According to Schuda, the session about creating a collaborative work environment discussed topics related to keeping a positive work environment, working well with peers, and how to utilize individual strengths and weaknesses. The second session was about being the best version of yourself and focused on not comparing oneself to others and knowing how to utilize personal strength.

“We [thought the theme would] resonate really well with like the kids because, especially in today’s society, people are like ‘I’m not as good as her or him’ and so … it’s about realizing your personal best,” Schuda said.

Toward the end of the day, students competed in a leadership challenge, modeled after The Amazing Race and The da Vinci Code, which emphasized “competition using group dynamics and conflict management to solve puzzles in small groups while exploring Mater Dei’s campus,“ according to the Mater Dei website.

Learning to Lead concluded with all the students, faculty and teachers gathering in the MAC for mass.

“Overall the day [was] very nice because I’ve met a lot of new people and I’ve learned a lot of things about teamwork,” said Kenzo Osmena, an 8th grader at Fulton Middle School.

Learning to Lead is only one of the many ways in which Mater Dei reaches out to future high schoolers and allows them an opportunity to become apart of the community. Other events put on for local youth are the Special Games held on Mar. 16 and many summer camps held by programs from performing arts to soccer.