Have your kids ever wondered about becoming leaders?
Well, that’s exactly what 67 3rd-5th graders from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District learned about at the first Districtwide Student Leadership Conference.
The conference, held at Grant Elementary School on November 14, was facilitated by City at Peace – Los Angeles (CP-LA), an organization that uses the arts as a tool to identify a youth’s leadership skills. Once the skills are determined, CP-LA shows the child how to use them to create positive change in their community.
Each student created a Scattergram at the conference. A Scattergram contains words that can be used to describe a person’s characteristics. Students were asked to circle five words that describe them the best and then make a shape by connecting the words. They then found others in the group who were like them because they had similar shapes.
According to CP-LA Managing Director Lianne Goldsmith, a creative way to explore various issues – from bullying to recycling and more – was to have the students identify a specific issue and then stand as a sculpture “to express an opinion on the issue.”
Teen facilitators from CP-LA helped to facilitate the conference. Sixteen-year-old Jessica Akande, a junior at Hamilton High School, stated that since she has been participating in the CP-LA program she has “grown more as a person and is more aware of what is going on in the world.”
Grant Elementary Principal Alan Friedenberg said these kids will be the future leaders in the District and will end up “heading different clubs and organizations.” He further emphasized that “each of them is gifted in their own way.”
The Mirror had the opportunity to speak with some of the student participants. Grant fifth-grader Ashton Stephens, secretary for the school’s Student Council, mentioned that he learned “it’s important to listen to other people’s views and be open to new ideas.” He then added, “The Student Council will now run more smoothly because me and the other council members participated.”
Stephens’ fellow council member Drew Goldman told the Mirror, “It’s good to be a leader. It’s really more about helping people. I will be a better leader at the Student Council because I took part in the conference.”
The cost of the program for the District was $2,500, and students were chosen to take part in the program by their school principal. Students from all 11 District elementary schools participated.
City at Peace is a national program that started in Washington, D.C. in 1994.