With a new administration we have had the opportunity to reevaluate some of the Leadership traditions we have at Centennail. For years we have put up student birthdays at our main entrance to the school. We would put up the month and then list all the student names with their first name and first initial of their last name to comply with our privacy rules. A new TV screen was put up where the birthdays were over the summer. The discussion included where we should display the birthdays and should we put them up at all. Here is a summary of what I wrote.
Anecdotal value of recognizing Birthdays and how it helps build connections and community at Centennial
- We have students in our school where their families don’t do anything for their birthday. I have spoken to students in this situation and have been told they appreciate having their name on the wall.
- Every time we put the Birthdays up, a 10 year tradition at Centennial, I see students coming by to find their name or their friend’s name.
- Through the years I have had students come up and tell me that we have missed their name. We quickly get their name up and report back. The most recent time I had this happen was last month. Ideally we wouldn’t miss a name but it does demonstrate that students notice and value seeing their name
There are things that I think don’t matter much and things that are a big deal. I believe that putting Birthdays up is a big deal. When we first started doing it I wouldn’t have said that. But I have seen the positive impact it has on our kids. I know it isn’t changing the world but it does make our school better. It is one thing that allows us to recognize and include every student in our building.
Good news, birthdays will continue to be displayed at Centennail. Keep on building those connections in your schools and lives.
Centennial High School hosted our annual Feeder Leadership Conference. 150 students from Samuel Shaw School and MidSun Jr. High attended. These are the two main schools whose students will eventually be Coyotes. I am very proud of my class pictured above. This was a student planned and run conference with minimal guidance from me.
Why host a Feeder conference?
- It builds stronger relationships with the Leadership programs, both teachers and students of your feeder schools
- It can increase enrollment in your programs as students see what you do and want to be a part of it. Our numbers jumped significantly after hosting our first Feeder.
- It is a great opportunity for your students to plan and run a meaningful event and allows them to connect with their old school and teachers
Attached is our imperfect, student generated program for the day. Hopefully it gives you some ideas and inspires you to host your own feeder conference in the future
I had the privilege of working with Henry Wisewood’s Student Council last Friday. They are preparing to host the Canadian Student Leadership Association’s Horizons Conference on Oct. 15 and wanted to get ready for an amazing day.
Surprise (not really), while sharing Centennial ideas with them I got some great ideas in return.
Wisewood had a “selfies with Maximus” (Wisewood Warrior’s mascot) contest. Students were encouraged to take selfies with Maximus as he toured the school during lunch hours. They had to put #warriorpride in order to qualify for prizes. Tons of kids participated upping their outreach on instagram and increasing school spirit. Nice job HWW Student Council.
Guess what Centennial is doing in the next two weeks. That’s right, selfies with the coyote. Check out @chscoyote in the next week or so to see more.
We need more sharing of great leadership ideas. Get connected and pass those good ideas along.
Go Yotes! (and Warriors, except for when I play them in BBall this year)
For more info on CSLA Horizons Conferences go to
School start up is always crazy and hard to explain to someone who isn’t a teacher. In the rush of a million things to get done I asked my Sr. Leadership class (gr. 11s and 12s) to get the September birthdays up ASAP. For almost 10 years now we display all the names (first name and last initial) at our main entrance to Centennial. Sometimes it doesn’t feel appreciated but if they are up late or a name is missed we do hear about it. So we needed to get those September BDays up. I asked Georgia and Josh to organize the whole class to get it done. In one class and a bit the class had them finished and up. Above is a picture of them in action.
Later I thought about how awesome it was to turn that job over and see it done well withoug my supervision or intervention. They are seasoned leadership students who know what to do and care that it is done well.
It was a cool moment and I almost missed it. May you have many cool moments this year and may you not miss them.
Turns out my Student Leaders are very optimistic about the world and they love to draw on the white board. Here is how it worked.
First I showed the Lost Generation clip from YouTube. It starts off seeming like a very negative video but changes half way through to be very positive. The link is above. I then invited the class to write down as many things as they could that are great about the world right now or they see as positive for the future.
Then they were encouraged to come up to the whiteboard and write everything positive down they thought was important. When that was done they could come up and show what they liked that other people wrote by circling it or putting stars beside etc. What we got as you can see from the picture above was a very messy, awesome declaration of optimism by my class. They kept talking about all the things they had written down well into the rest of the class.
Give it a try! Now I am going to go outside and positively enjoy the 30C weather we rarely get in Calgary this time of year!
This is my friend Braeden. He is a Leadership superstar at Centennial. He is also one of the most positive people I know. He was wearing this shirt the other day and I had to take a picture. I love the idea of a Thumbs Up Thursday. Say yes to all the good things in our lives and opportunities that may come our way. We are starting to promote Thursdays as all about the thumbs up. Be positive, say yes to opportunities, and spread the enthusiasm.
May your Thursdays always be Thumbs Up!!
At our retreat this year we asked our students the question – “Are you a Leadership Kid or a kid taking Leadership?”
A Leadership Kid shows up for the lunch time activity. A kid taking leadership class asks if they have to be there because that is their free time. A Leadership Kid shows up after school to decorate while a kid taking leadershipclass checks first to see if they get marks for coming. A Leadership Kid figures out a way to attend an assembly or retreat while a kid taking leadership doesn’t come because they would have to then write a test after school cutting into their time. A Leadership Kid loves being there, works hard, and usually gets a great grade too. A kid taking Leadership may get a great grade, or they may not. But their experience is not near as rich as the Leadership Kid’s.
We encourage our students to be Leadership Kids, not just a kid taking Leadership.
I have attached a sheet that we used at our last retreat. They brainstormed the differences between a Leadership Kid and a kid taking Leadership. Then we had them pick three goals for themselves during the semester. Their goals are posted in the room and at the halfway point and end of term they get to see how they are doing. Hope this is a help to you.
Sometimes an old Leadership idea has new and unexpected results. Our Gr. 10 Leadership class decided to take Mark Scharenbroich’s idea of “The Stars Come Out” and make it into a St. Patrick’s Day idea. We cut out 2000 green coyote paw prints and put every one of our staff and students names on their own individual paw print. On the 16th after school we put all of the paw prints up so that they filled the main hallway and make an impression when students came the next day. On St. Patrick’s Day everyone had a paw print to go find. Many of the staff and students took their’s home or put it at their desk or locker. Cool Story – A parent told me that evening he saw a green paw print on his son’s bedroom wall and asked what it was. He was told that the Leadership class had put up everyone’s name. He spent every class break and lunch looking for his with no luck. Right after school he noticed a section he missed and there was his name. He told his Dad that he shouted out “I Exist!”. He then brought his paw print home. Students want to feel connected to their school – they want people to know “I Exist!” There was more social media traffic about this activity than any we have done in the last two months. Build Connections – as Mark S says “Connect The Dots” Below are some of our Leadership 10 students with the paw prints. They covered six tables. Nice Bike Lead 10 Yotes!
Centennial H.S. Calgary has three Student Leadership classes each semester. These are a combination of our Gr. 10 or Sr. classes (gr. 11s and 12s). At the beginning of each semester we go away for a day with those classes to get to know each other better, receive leadership training, and set the direction for the semester. Our experience at Centennial has shown that our students progress so much that day. It used to take us 2-3 weeks of classes to achieve the same results.
What a typical Centennial Leadership Retreat looks like:
1. Mixers and Energizers – get them up and moving, meeting new people, and feeling excited about the day – you can find lots of great resources for these at the Canadian Student Leadership Association website – https://studentleadership.ca/
2. Spirit Groups – divide them as evenly as you can between boys and girls, grades, and mixing the classes – have them introduce themselves to each other and do some mixer activities with each other – then have them introduce themselves to the whole group
3. Leadership Lesson – have them doing something active which teaches a Leadership lesson that will serve you well that semester.
4. Lunch – We are within walking distance of several fast food restaurants. We give them a longer lunch than they get during a regular school day. It is important for them to spend time together. We make sure that everyone is included and no one is left behind.
5. Afternoon energizers – you need to get them engaged after lunch. This year we started with a modified rock, paper, scissors activity followed by the annual Garbage Bag Fashion Show. We provide each spirit group with a number of garbage bags. They dress up their model and have them strut the catwalk. One year we didn’t do this and were told never to make that mistake again.
6. The Big Leadership Idea – You need to teach them something of significance about Leadership. Everything you have done up to this point leads up to this moment. We discussed 16 Leadership traits and debated which one is the most important. Lots of great discussion about what is most important as a leader.
If you don’t hold retreats consider adding them to your program. They don’t have to be overnight or complicated. A day away works for us. If you do retreat keep up the good work!
done up todone done so far in the day is getting them ready for this. This year we compared 16 different Leadership traits. Students voted and debated which one was the most important of the 16. If you don’t do retreats consider adding this to your program. They don’t have to be complex overnight affairs. A day away works for us. If you are on the retreat bandwagon then keep it up. W
A student came to me yesterday and asked if she could speak to me outside of class. As we went out she started to cry. Her grandfather had passed away the day before and that is why she was away from school. She wanted to tell me that when she came back that morning she found a note in her locker that said “The best is yet to come!” from The Coyote (our school mascot). She then told me how this short note had made her day and wanted me to thank the leadership class responsible. I share this story with her permission.
One of our Sr. Leadership classes came up with the idea to put a positive note in each student’s locker this week from the Coyote. I thought it sounded like a great idea. Who knew the impact it would have on this student. It made me think that the positive things we do in schools do make a difference in a way that sometimes we never know. Keep on doing what you do.
Here are some samples of the student notes:
Think positive and positive things will happen
The best is yet to come
Enjoy the little things in life … for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things
So much to study, so little time (we feel you) GOOD LUCK ON FINALS!
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re probably right
You have to accept whatever comes; the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and give all that you’ve got
If plan A fails remember you have 25 letters left
Your’re just like bacon, you make everything better! (one of my favourites)
Remember the compliments you receive and forget the insults, you’re awesome