School always starts a few days early for the leadership students at Hope Secondary School.
Led by teacher advisor Lenora Poulin, the kids get together for a retreat at the end of every summer to plan out the year ahead.
They spend two full school days figuring out the school’s special events. They decide on spirit events, fundraisers and activities to fill their calendar. They are the ones who will post their fellow students’ names on the homeroom doors, and help plan the back to school barbecue.
But this year, they had some other business to attend to first.
This year, they donned gardening gloves, grabbed a few rakes, and joined the school’s special education teacher, Rose Dennison, in bringing the school gardens back to life.
“For the first day of school, it’s important to make a good impression for the students,” Poulin said.
While it’s usually Dennison who cleans up the gardens, and the special education students who take care of them throughout the year, the leadership kids thought they could lend a few hands.
And as it turns out, many hands do make light work.
“What would have taken her all day took about 10 minutes with everyone helping,” Poulin said. About 15 of the 25 leadership students were on hand Thursday morning for the work bee, under Dennison’s direction.
They raked out the dead leaves and dug up weeds before getting back to their usual routine of planning for the year.
“The kids were awesome,” Poulin said. But she wasn’t surprised. “They do so many great things.”
Leadership has been offered at Hope Secondary School since Poulin and her husband started the program there in 1997. While it’s a regular class, it happens outside of school hours.
The group gets together for an hour, Tuesdays through Thursdays, starting at 7:30 a.m.
While learning about leadership, the kids are learning lifelong skills that carry into the workplace, Poulin said. By the time they reach graduation year, they each have a full portfolio outlining the many projects they helped with, planned and carried out.
And whether they realize it as teenagers or not, they are learning skills that will last a lifetime.
A former leadership student of Poulin came back to work as a student teacher recently. While at HSS, she was able to talk to the kids about the importance of what they’re learning, and the benefits of it.
“Sometimes they don’t even realize that in planning something like a bake sale, they are gaining the skills involved for planning bigger events,” Poulin said.