Whether it is in a student, a college applicant, or a job interviewee: leadership is a quality that people always look for. High school students seek leadership roles in order to enhance their college applications, and recently, this ideal has diffused into the middle school culture.
At Eleanor N. Johnson Middle School, students began to embrace leadership in a new leadership program that originated at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
Tiffany Radaz and Christine Svendsen, teachers at Johnson Middle School, decided to create this program in order to replace their past club, WEB, or “Where Everyone Belongs.” This group of eighth graders sought to welcome the sixth graders through games and bonding activities in small groups.
“WEB was a lot more focused on sixth grade transition,” said Radaz. “So we wanted to have this group of eighth graders be leaders amongst their peers, the seventh graders, and the school as a whole.”
In order to become a member, students had to be invested in the school community and write an essay on why they should be a leader.
In addition, they had to be willing to participate in the middle school’s student council.
Radaz and Svendsen plan to inculcate a sense of initiative into this group through several leadership activities as well as charitable works.
“We are doing many community service projects and we are helping to rake leaves for the senior center,” said Caroline Wilkins. “We are also holding a drive in November to collect school supplies for kids that do not have the ability to get their own.”
In addition, the students also raise money for others in need, host trivia games in homerooms, and participate in diverting activities such as the Breast Cancer Walk in Boston.
This program not only provides students with a social experience, but now teaches them life lessons and skills that they can use in high school.
“The new leaders are more involved in this program than the scripted and less organized program in the past,” said Agatha Dorigo. “We now have the opportunity to grow as leaders, and I will definitely get involved in this kind of program in high school.”
The group also has goals similar to that of the high school, as they aspire to improve the overall school spirit.
“In the past we have been lacking in school spirit at our events, like field day,” said Bria Foley. “So we are working to improve that along with the school culture in general.”
The eighth grade leaders also plan to collaborate with Bird Middle School in order to gain insight on how to improve their new program for the future.
Although this program currently exists without a name, Radaz and Svendsen plan to continue to sustain it in upcoming school years in order to equip the students with leadership qualities useful for the future.
“We are trying to teach them responsibility,” said Svendsen. “And we want them to be confident in themselves as they transition to high school and progress through life.”