Learning the Lessons of Leadership at Oshawa’s Queen Elizabeth Public School

Published January 13, 2023 at 9:49 am

When we think of leadership, we don’t often think of it coming from a 12 or 13 year-old, but students at Queen Elizabeth Public School in Oshawa want to challenge that.

Grade 7 and 8 students at the school recently honed their leadership skills at the Eagles Intermediate Leadership Camp. The camp was designed to inspire students to build student identity and explore their gifts and talents to show how they can lead and help build a positive school community.

The Leadership Camp engaged students in activities and workshops provided by Durham District School Board: Youth Workers, a Social Worker, an artist, and two educators. The workshops were designed to create an understanding of leadership traits and show students how they can foster their own traits while balancing social dynamics.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for our oldest students to see how they can create a positive school community,” said Queen Elizabeth Principal Danielle Denike. “They participated in activities throughout the day on the different types of leaders, workshops on Communicating and Conflict Management, Stress Management and Coping Skills, Understanding Emotions, The Importance of Sleep, Pathways, and Social Media & Well Being.

Brigitte Guglietti, a Social Worker with Inclusive Student Services and one of the presenters said the goal of her presentation was to teach Cognitive Behavioural Therapy strategies “which is necessary for some and good for all.”

“The main point was to have students recognize some of their inner automatic negative thoughts. We wanted to give them the skill and challenge them on how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and really make the connection that the thoughts we have every day impact the way we feel and the way we act.”

Grade 7 student Elena Waldron

The presentations struck a chord with Grade 7 student Elena Waldron, and Josh Lall, who is in Grade 8.

“The workshops have been really personal and it’s good that they have been because they have taught us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and be able to empathize with them,” Waldron said. “Teachers have told us how they have felt personally, and it shows you that you are not alone. The life journeys talks have stood out to me because it shows me that I am not alone in my problems either.”

For Lall, the the experience was also very enlightening. “In the workshops students talked about their own experiences and that helped peers to understand them more. Both I and my classmates took something away from the experiences. We know whatever we go through, we can do it together. We’ll always have people we can talk to.”

Grade 8 student Josh Lall

“The experience over the last couple days have helped me look at myself differently. I’ve also been more confident as I see that I have all the traits of a leader.”

Leadership is one of the core principles of the DDSB Ignite Learning Strategic Plan, with a key he outcome for student learning and well-being to promote student voices and identities and make sure they are honoured.

The Queen Elizabeth Public School Eagles Intermediate Leadership Camp is an example of a school whose changing culture is engaging students to thrive academically, socially, physically and emotionally, and use their gifts to become the leaders of tomorrow.

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