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Tomorrow’s Leaders Begin Their Journeys Today



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Story and photography contributed by Deborah Sareth ’13, summer communications intern

What does it take to be a leader? Are leaders born or bred? More than 100 Crusaders entering 9th grade this fall investigated these ideas during our summer high school transition program, Passageways. They spent an entire day out of each weeklong session exploring the idea of leadership.

They started out by defining a leader and discussing the qualities and attributes of being a good leader: motivate people, selflessness, charisma, confidence, the ability to resolve conflict, be open to constructive criticism, be dependable, trustworthy, and a good listener were just a few characteristics Crusaders mentioned. Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. were some examples students provided of individuals who displayed or continue to display extraordinary leadership.

But the question still remained: are leaders born or made? Crusaders tackled the question through a mock debate, dissecting what it means to be a leader through in-depth class discussions and participating in interactive activities. For the mock debate, the class was divided in half; one half was given the defense that leaders are made:

“Leaders are able to do what others can’t. Leaders become leaders over time through their experience. It is nurture rather than nature.”

The other half was given the defense that leaders are born:

“Leaders are born with strong personalities as a child, like Martin Luther King Jr. They are born into a family with family members that already possess power and influence.”

In the end, both sides concluded that leaders are a bit of both, naturally gifted at birth and developed through the test of time. “A good leader is someone who’s willing to make the right decision even when it’s tough,” said Cristobal Rincon.

David Montenegro added, “I believe a leader has to be influential to their followers. Whether good or bad, a leader isn’t a leader without people who follow them.” David continued, “I think my parents are good leaders. They are my role models who are good influences, intelligent, and provide me with lots of support. Not a lot of students have something like this, so I’m grateful to my parents.” As David pointed out, leaders are not exclusive to historical or public figures but can be any individual who is able to inspire others.

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After the discussions and mock debate, Crusaders kept it moving by jumping into another activity called the Balloon Tower (above). The goal was to create the highest standing tower using only the materials provided, which in this case were balloons and limited amounts of tape. It sounds easy, but throw in the pressures of time and the challenge of teamwork, and you’ve got an equation perfect to supplement the day’s theme of leadership. The class was divided into two groups, and leaders arose during the activity. One of them was Aileen Feliz. “My mother always told me that I didn’t have a problem with correcting people,” Aileen said. “I don’t hesitate to join a conversation. I also don’t mind leading a group that needs it.”

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Throughout the day, students engaged in various other leadership exercises, such as the “Patience” string activity (above) and the Human Knot. Cristobal summed up the day by saying, “I am the one to push myself to success and do what’s right with the knowledge I gained. This program is a start to your future. I learned that school is not just to get a degree. You need to absorb and actually use what you learn for the future.”

See below for more photos of Passageways students making a Culture Chain, playing the Labels game, discussing their similarities and differences, and untying a Human Knot. Thanks to Crusade Advisors Dwayne Clement, Justin Roias, and Samantha Barrus for contributing photos. Thanks also to E-Cubed Academy for hosting Passageways, and congratulations to all the students who participated. Best of luck to everyone for the fall!

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