Boys' School Emerging Leaders Conference

May 14, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Jesus of Nazareth, Judas Iscariot, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin, Emmeline Pankhurst, Adolf Hitler, Marie Curie, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, Eva Peron, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Mao Tse Tung, Benazir Bhutto, Nelson Mandela, Dame Whina Cooper, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Helen Clark, Steve Jobs, Malala Yousafzi,  Mr Cassie, Dr Hastie….

At many points in history, the world has produced those who have shined brighter than others in their generation; those whose vision, beliefs and ideologies have guided mankind. These are the leaders who have been gifted with the exceptional ability to inspire, lead and motivate those around them - whether for good or bad; for leaders come in many guises.

Regardless of their ideology, there is one thing that they all have in common; they were all young once and learned from the experience of others.

In a first for the Boys’ School, a full day ‘Emerging Leaders Conference’ was held this week for the boys in Year 8, along with the Year 8 girls from the Girls’ School and two invited Year 8 representatives from each of the local schools. The day offered the chance for all students to learn leadership skills with the hope that would each challenge the way they see themselves and the world around them. It is hoped that they will be inspired to go on to make a difference to the communities in which they live and to other corners of the world. The students were challenged to take an idea from the day and turn it into something that would benefit others.

The School was grateful for the huge input by the team from World Vision to bring the day together, opening with words from their CEO, Chris Clarke. Referring to the huge fundraising efforts made by our students over the years, Mr Clarke told the students that Saint Kentigern is a school with a huge heart. 

He went on to say that they could be the luckiest or unluckiest of generations yet to live. The luckiest because the big issues like child mortality and fatal disease are being addressed but the unluckiest because they have been bequeathed big challenges like climate change and the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor. He explained that they could choose to live their lives in ordinary or extraordinary ways but if they chose to ‘make the world a better place than the world they came into’ then there were five pointers that could help them on their way:

  1. Passion. Find the one thing that you are so passionate about that you are inspired to drive change. This might be child poverty, the status of the ocean or animal welfare - whatever it is that interests you.
  2. Get Knowledge. This is the first generation to have all the facts at the click of a button. Get online, read and learn about your cause.
  3. Do Stuff. Leaders aren’t born, they are made. Get involved!
  4. Do it as a Group. It is hard to change the world by yourself. Groups of likeminded people have power.
  5. Shout loudly. You need to be heard. If you are outraged by injustice, let it be known!

Primed and ready for a day of learning, the girls and boys then headed to the Sports Centre for a ‘mass simulation’ game. They were divided into countries and tasked with developing their assigned communities on a local level by building houses and farms (to be cut out and origami folded!) on allocated squares of land. The game started out quietly with only a little interaction amongst the students from the range of schools but when they were given the power to further develop on a global scale, things soon heated up and the natural leaders began to emerge as bargaining for land acquisition got underway. Arguments soon erupted over whether alliances or invasions were taking place! In debriefing, the idea was discussed that the game was more about ‘humanity’ than ‘leadership.’ Each country had been given sufficient to survive but avarice and power had taken hold and acquisition became a driving force – the root of so many conflicts around the world. The students had much to reflect on during shared morning tea.

Over the course of the rest of the day, the students were invited to listen to some amazing speakers, each with words of wisdom to offer.

Justice Patricia Courtney, a High Court judge, explained that good leadership is all about learning to make sound decisions and having a good understanding of the impact those decisions can make.

Celebrity Cook, Allyson Gofton, is committed to working for charity and travels the country helping to raise funds for family-based causes. Her greatest passion is to mentor young people in her industry to help them to achieve their dreams. She encouraged the students to think of ways they too could help others.

Ken Youngson, CEO of Quantum Sport explained that being an effective leader of others is dependent on how well they can lead themselves; that the choices they make will determine their actions. The better their sense of core values, the better the decisions they will make. He used the analogy of a thermometer or a thermostat. The students could choose to ‘read the temperature’ or take the initiative to ‘set the temperature.’

Following lunch, current College student, Isabella Denholm and 2013 College graduate, Letitia Puni, both World Vision Youth Ambassadors, spoke of their recent experiences in Africa. As Ambassadors, Isabella visited Tanzania and Letitia went to Malawi, and each made their mark with the passion with which they spoke about the plight of others. They encouraged us to take the steps to help make a difference. Isabella told them to Dream Big, Have Courage and Just Do It!

As the students gathered to reflect on their day, they were left with the following questions to ponder on: What cause makes you to be passionate or angry? What skills have you got that can change this?  What changes can you start to put in place today that will make a difference? What kind of leadership do you want to follow? What kind of leadership to you plan to model?

The day was a fabulous opportunity for our senior students; one that is usually only available to a select few who are chosen to attend leadership gatherings beyond the school gates. We give particular thanks to Devon Davids and Danielle Aldridge and their team from World Vision for their help in bringing the day together. Our sincere thanks also to Chris Clarke, Justice Patricia Courtney, Allyson Gofton, Ken Youngson, Letitia Puni and Isabella Denholm for taking the time to come and speak to our students.

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