2014-10-24 / Community

Bank grant assists The New School program

The New School has a goal to develop student leadership and starts the school year with a retreat to advance students’ leadership skills.

This year, with the help of Kennebunk Savings Bank, the students spent three days at RippleEffect on Cow Island in Casco Bay.

RippleEffect offers a program called the Youth Leadership Expedition that conducts learning adventures in living classrooms. The program focuses on issues of leadership through communication and group dynamics and teaches high school students life leadership skills to: help cope with challenging situations, recognize their individual potential, and become effective leaders among their peers and in their community.

Learning group leadership skills on a beautiful island looks suspiciously like a lot of fun –especially when it includes kayaking, ziplining, problem-solving games, building and racing rafts, and climbing rock walls.

These activities made it easy and exciting while building trust, communication and collaboration skills. Students had a number of thrilling experiences as they broke into random groups to guide each other in blindfolded rock-climbing and maze-walking, or building a raft and then racing it against other teams – with hilarious results.

Senior Roger Benoit learned that, for him, to find out the strengths and weaknesses of those in his group was instrumental to being a leader. He found that delegating tasks to the appropriate member caused much less friction in the group dynamic.

Teacher Christine Knowles observed that the students learned just how important it is to focus on and truly listen to what each group member is saying. This is a valuable lesson when most people in conversations are just waiting to jump in and talk.

Senior Sam Workman noted that the experience on Cow Island was an opportunity to get to know all of his fellow students on a much deeper level as they were interacting in a totally different environment.

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