(August 16, 2012)
High School Leadership Academy helps students discover their passion
SHREVEPORT, LA — Nineteen students who demonstrated leadership potential and a spirit of service joined the inaugural session of the High School Leadership Academy (HSLA), July 17-20, at Centenary College. The rising high school juniors and seniors traveled from throughout the south-central United States to attend the Academy.
"Students left with the understanding that leadership is more than managing people and solving problemsóleadership is about serving and caring for others," said Valerie Robideaux, Centenary's Director of Professional Discernment. "The students discussed global challenges and witnessed people and organizations committed to achieving change locally. They also responded enthusiastically to incorporating their passions into their educational goals and future professions."
The Academy offered expert-led discussions, special guest speakers, and hands-on experience in practical leadership skills to meet global challenges. Students were also encouraged to begin thinking about what they were passionate about and how to apply that passion in a meaningful way.
"I've been to other leadership academies and conferences, but this one stood out to me," said high school student Danni Wilson. "The first night we were here we discussed following your passionósomething that made you want to get up in the morning. Most conferences talk about success in terms of money, but the speakers at Centenary really just love what they do. I want to push for my passion now, and that is something I will always take with me."
The Academy's activities were designed to show students how to translate their learning into purposeful action. Discussions ranged from ethical leadership to systems thinking and sustainability. The group also visited the Community Renewal International Center and Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center to explore ways in which they could effect change.
"Ever since I was little I have had a great passion for the medical field," said Academy participant Audra Staley. "During the Academy, we toured the MLK Health Center. The tour and small groups gave me insight into what I can do with the leaderships skills I learned here and how I can use them in the medical field."
Centenary faculty including Dr. Jeanne Hamming and Dr. Chris Ciocchetti led workshops and sessions for the students. The faculty and staff encouraged the students to make the most of their Academy experience through full participation.
"It was truly great to see the close relationships formed in such a short period of time. We enjoyed watching the students become passionate during a mock city council meeting. They loved interacting with one another and seeing how systemic challenges are part of everyday life," observed Robideaux.
Academy planners are already looking toward the future. Based on student evaluations, the group is discussing adding more small group activities as well as a keynote speaker. Students also made the unanimous request that the timeframe of the Academy be extended.