Martin C. Barry
A one-day Advanced Student Leadership Summit took place at Laval Junior Academy on March 19, drawing hundreds of grade four to grade eleven students as participants from Laval and other areas of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board’s territory.
According to SWLSB leadership program consultant Daniel Johnson, 500 student leaders from 17 different schools gathered at LJA to take part in the all-day event, dealing with the environment, governance and many other current issues.
Spreading the TED message
The summit was held leading towards a “TEDX” learning conference in mid-April. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, with X added to denote it is an independent TED event following TED principles. TED is a U.S.-based media organization which posts talks online for free distribution under the slogan ‘ideas worth spreading.’
“It’s all about empowering and engaging the next generation of leaders to be able to take positive action at their schools and in their communities,” Daniel Johnson said in an interview with the Laval News.
He said students from the SWLSB’s Joliette High School in the Laurentian community of Joliette, as well as Laval Junior and Laval Senior academies, had been working together to put on the event.
Many SWLSB schools
There were students from Rawdon Elementary School in the Laurentians, SWLSB students from Mountainview and Saint-Jude schools in Deux-Montagnes, and McCaig Elementary in Rosemère. From Laval, students came from Saint-Paul, J.F.K., Genesis, Jules Verne, Souvenir, Hillcrest, Twin Oaks, and Terry Fox Elementary School.
“This is a showcase,” SWLSB chairman Paolo Galati told the Laval News. “We had one student give his TED talk from last year so that everybody could see what TED was about. So the schools can now take these TED talks, which are online, to see them in their classes and teach with them. This is just one way that the students are learning.”
‘Latitude and commotion
This year, the TEDX Laval theme is “latitude and commotion.” The TEDX concept is based on the idea that leadership instills confidence and helps solve problems creatively, while contributing to team work and promoting collaboration between people.
As well, supporters believe that the opportunity to develop self-confidence in problem-solving paves the way towards social and emotional development on a life-long journey of trying to make the world – and the community – a better place to live in.
SWLSB chairman ‘inspired’
“You inspire me,” Galati told the students. “You are tomorrow’s generation of leaders. Your actions and your dedication inspire me to be better, to do better. Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational. It is our role to help you become the best you can be. You have so much potential. Anything is possible if you work hard and persevere.
“Be true to yourself,” he added. “Don’t be afraid do dream big. Dream and continue to dream. And dream to be the best that you can be. Enjoy every minute of this day and remember: If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
‘Heed the voice,’ says speaker
Katherine O’Neil, a nurse from Montreal who recently returned from Haiti where she was part of a group doing humanitarian work, also addressed the TEDX students. “In life we have a little inner voice that nudges us along the path,” she said. “And sometimes we ignore that voice. It’s there speaking to us, but we don’t actually stop to listen to it.”
She said that one thing she learned in life was that “we take many detours, but we end up arriving where we’re meant to arrive. We end up going where we’re meant to go.” Saying she went to Haiti to do humanitarian work, she suggested to the students they could do the same thing here if they wanted to. “We’re all called to do something,” said O’Neil, urging them to “listen to that voice.”