Middle school pupils get lessons in leadership

December 03, 2006|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,sun reporter

Michael Adamovich, 12, a seventh-grader at Elkridge Landing Middle School, knows what it takes to be a leader.

"Not many people can become leaders. But those who are, it is a real honor," Michael said a day after completing the school system's first Youth Empowerment Summit on Tuesday at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center in Columbia.

Sixty-five pupils from Clarksville, Elkridge Landing and Murray Hill middle schools learned how to become better leaders and, in the process, prevent bullying at their schools.

The brainchild of guidance counselors at each school, pupils involved in leadership programs in their schools were chosen for the summit.

An emphasis was placed on recruiting sixth- and seventh-graders so schools could use their leadership skills in the future, said Tom Saunders, principal at Elkridge Landing Middle.

"It was a great experience," said Saunders. "These schools wouldn't normally have much contact with each other."

Participants spent the day working in small groups and discussed leadership characteristics and ways to prevent bullying.

"The guidance counselors and administrators in these schools felt that it was important for students to have a voice," Saunders said.

Kelly Schwab, 13, an eighth-grader at Elkridge Landing, said she learned about the five types of leaders.

"I'm a leader of the moment," Kelly said. "When I see someone in trouble, I just act."

Michael found that he is a leader by example.

"When I do something, people usually follow," he said. "I set a good example."

Kelly said the leadership training will help thwart bullying.

"If you stand up to a bully and show leadership, [other pupils] will go along with it, too," Kelly said. "Oftentimes people find it hard to be the first person to speak out against bullying."

Saunders said pupils from the three schools bonded immediately.

"There were a lot of e-mails and phone numbers exchanged," said Saunders, who added that officials will meet next month to prepare for a reunion summit in the spring.

Michael echoed his principal.

"I made a close friendship with some of them," Michael said. "Being a leader and doing all of this will keep our bond together, and we will remain friends."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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