Leadership Day showcases QJHS students

Quincy Junior High Lighthouse Leadership Team students instruct a group on how to flip over a tarp without their hands or arguing as part of a team building exersize during QJHS' Leadership Day on Thursday, May. 18, 2017. Students chose to make the theme of the day
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 19, 2017 8:35 am

QUINCY -- Sam Dietrich has figured out a few things about leadership this year at Quincy Junior High School.

"It's all about the Seven Habits," the eighth-grader said. "That's what we try to make our school about."

Sam and other students helped others to do the same thing by highlighting ways to "unlock the super leader in you" at Thursday's annual QJHS Leadership Day.

"You really need to have this experience later on in life is how I think of it," she said. "You get to work with different people. You get to work with adults. You get to work on your speaking skills, and you get to showcase what the junior high is really about."

The day offered visitors an opportunity to learn more about student leadership and the Leader in Me journey at QJHS along with how the Covey Seven Habits make a positive impact on the school climate, community and the focus on student achievement.

Eighth-grader Samantha Brown was on hand to answer questions from visitors, including which habit was her favorite -- putting first things first -- because it helps her to prioritize.

"A Leadership Day is an opportunity for us to open our doors to educators and business leaders to ‘see and feel' the dynamic changes that are occurring for our students," said Kristen Walker, an eighth-grade language arts teacher who helped coordinate the event. "Teachers are equipping our students to do amazing things -- tracking their academic and behavior goals, leading class discussions and schoolwide assemblies, spearheading clubs and community initiatives."

Students gave presentations, led classroom tours for visitors and an afternoon assembly, answered questions and highlighted student-led initiatives -- all designed to provide ideas and inspiration for visitors like Laurie Stegeman, a teacher in the Liberty School District.

"We've been involved quite a bit in leadership, especially in grades K-6. We want to extend that a little bit to the junior high and make it attractive to students," she said. "I'm here to get some ideas on how to do that."

Principal Dan Sparrow said the process began with "signature" training for the teachers and concentrating on providing a safe and secure learning environment first before working to build self-esteem and leadership in students. Just as important, Walker said, was having a clear vision and mission buildingwide and taking simple steps like providing classroom leadership jobs for students.

Kenyell Bailey, an officer with the Quincy Police Department, said attending events such as Leadership Day gives youths a chance to see that police aren't just people who sit in a car and aren't accessible, but that they're friendly and supportive.

"More than just wanting to enforce the laws, we want to see and help them grow as people and become productive members of society," Bailey said.

What she saw at QJHS was students on the right track with self-confidence and social skills. "It really helps prepare them for the real world," Bailey said.

"We want our student leaders to walk away at the end of our Leadership Day feeling proud of their current accomplishments and inspired to achieve more as they venture through life using the Seven Habits to achieve their own personal greatness," Walker said. "It's amazing to see the great heights students can reach once they are equipped with the right tools and adults get out the way to let them shine."