The Lester B. Pearson School Board Feb. 8 junior leadership day saw 200 Grade 5 and 6 students from 20 schools converge on St. Edmund Elementary School. Through workshops presented by high school student leaders and professional motivators, they learned the value of being leaders in a digital world with all that entails.
“One of the important things we wanted to do is leadership as the main focus but having a few sessions that were specifically focused on a digital citizen. How students in high school have to use their leadership roles and balance the digital world. They’re on Twitter, they’re on Facebook. There are pictures being taken all the time. Everything is by the minute. That was this year’s focus,” said co-organizer, principal of Beechwood Elementary Michael Rabinovitch.
In addition to the 200 elementary school students, about 100 high schools from John Rennie, Macdonald, Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School (PCHS), Beaconsfield High and Riverdale came to the special day as counsellors and organizers. They set up workshops to show the youngsters what’s available to them in high school and how to get involved while remaining safe on the Internet.
There were 14 workshops. In one of them, 28-year-old professional motivator from Dynamics, a Montreal-based firm, Oren Weintraub sought to teach the kids the qualities of a leader and how to recognize them. The kids had a talk after which they played a challenge in which they tried to roll a ball through tubes without touching them using teamwork.
“What they learned in this workshop is really about how to learn from each other and see the leadership skills in one another and the qualities in one another. They were learning to recognize the respectful communication in each other, learn to recognize the assertive nature of the way the other kids were speaking and how to step up and be confident,” said Weintraub.
In another workshop hosted by PCHS students, the kids learned about how to stay safe on the Internet: what to do with inappropriate images, how to report a video, how to be safe on Skype, Facebook and other applications.
“We explained what you should be putting on the Internet whether it’s information, statuses, pictures, what’s safe for you like what’s actually underneath your control that you can put to stay safe. It’s great that we are able to teach them because we all have experiences, a little more than them. They seem to know a lot more than we originally thought which is really great because to be prepared is very important to be able to deal with high school situations. The Internet is always changing,” said 15-year-old Brianna Klint.
“I learned that you always have to ask your parents before you go on the Internet and be sure if you want to post certain pictures because after you post them, you can’t delete them,” said 11-year-old Terry Fox Elementary School student Luca Sorice.