There is no shortage of candidates for leadership roles at St. Margaret’s School, so when the opportunity came up for four students from Grade 7 and 8 to participate in the Independent Schools Association of BC (ISABC) student leadership program, an application process was put in place. The successful applicants were Grade 7 students Julia Mannall-Fretwell, Naomi Corwin, Maryam Mtiraoui and Grade 8 student Ivey Patrick.

The year-long program aims to empower students by developing leadership skills such as empathy, self-awareness, reflection, design thinking, pitching ideas, active listening and public speaking. The objectives are to encourage cross-school networking and collaboration in a non-competitive environment, develop and hone leadership skills, apply leadership knowledge in real-life situations in school contexts, and learn to teach other students—an amazing opportunity for those involved.

The girls, along with Mrs. Procyshyn and Mrs. Zawacki attended a two-day residential leadership training with other ISABC students at Keats Camp on Keats Island. While there, they worked collaboratively to design a program for SMS that responds to the questions: ‘What do you care about? What are you going to do about it?’

Their idea—to create stronger student connections at SMS. They came up with a program that aims to create cross-grade connections throughout the school, as well as a plan for implementation. The connection sessions will take what has already been successful with the Big Sister/Little Sister program, and build upon that to create connections between middle and senior students.

“We saw that many students didn’t know each other outside of their grade even though we are a small school. We wanted to create a way for older and younger student, day and boarding students, and international and Canadian students to connect with each other,” said Naomi.

“MY students don’t connect with SY students that often, so we wanted to make that connection to help with the transition from Grade 8 to 9,” said Ivey.

Since October the team has been working hard to plan and coordinate their sessions, and the first one was held in January.

Students from the Middle Years and Senior Years came together for a fun hour of activities that had them laughing, thinking, competing, and talking to others who they may never otherwise have had the opportunity to engage with.

“It took a lot of time to organize everyone into their groups, to make sure people weren’t with their friends, to pitch our ideas, and to coordinate times with homeroom teachers, as well as plan the activities,” said Julia.

The team hopes to have two more sessions before the end of this school year, and they feel confident that students will come out with a greater sense of connection with their SMS peers.

“They worked super hard, and I was really impressed with how much time they put in despite everything else they have going on. It took a lot of hard work and I’m really happy with how the first session connecting the MY and SY students went,” said Mrs. Procyshyn.