Grade 12 students have the opportunity to study peer leadership in their final year at ASL, an advanced course designed to encourage students to become role models, mentors and peer counselors.
Participants learn leadership skills by exploring a variety of avenues throughout the year, including working with a Grade 9 advisory class. This experience provides students the opportunity to offer support and mentorship to those new to the High School, and to develop activities for Grade 9s that promote the values of inclusion, learning and group development. Peer leadership students are also trained in the restorative justice model of conflict resolution, and work to raise critical consciousness—something that develops as students examine their concerns against the backdrop of sociopolitical realities of the larger world.
Last weekend, 28-30 September, the 12 peer leadership students travelled to Dinefwr Park in Wales, for a bonding retreat in the countryside. Students worked together to build teamwork, leadership and trust skills, through activities, games and discussions. They joined forces to pass their peers over an “electric fence” (a jumprope) without getting "shocked;" had in-depth conversations about different personality types, and how to use their strengths together; and shared stories of struggle and resilience, and considered how best to support one another.
The group also embraced their independence by grocery shopping and preparing meals without help from faculty chaperones, and enjoyed a solo night walk, in complete darkness, to overcome fears and challenges.
“During the retreat, we leave school behind and don’t discuss anything or anyone who isn’t on the trip,” explained HS Counselor Stephanie Oliver. "The students get to take off their ‘school masks’ and truly get to know one another, which I believe helps to eliminate drama and gossip in high school—the unfortunate by-products of people not feeling able to show their true selves."
2018-19 is the year of Taking Care at ASL—and we can’t think of a better way to support our well-being mission than the work being undertaken by this class of courageous young leaders.