NORWICH – More than a week after students returned from a controversial four-day leadership training retreat in the Adirondacks, some within the school and community remain vocally opposed to the program.
That undercurrent of disapproval regarding The Leadership Project was overshadowed at Tuesday’s board of education meeting, however, when parents of several students involved with the program, as well as one of the students himself, voiced their support.
The first to speak during public comment was Kurt Edwards, the father of two of the program’s participants who also served as one of the trip’s leaders. Edwards began by sharing the objectives of The Leadership Project, which he stated as being “to build student character, leadership skills and effectiveness in being a leader; to identify and further the process of instilling a positive and productive school culture.”
Being a part of the program, he said, has been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding experiences of his life.
“I witnessed students stretched physically, work through and even overcome fear, reflect, share shortcomings or missteps and in doing so they demonstrated incredible courage, desire, teamwork, mutual caring and respect,” Edwards said.
One of the most profound portions of the experience, he explained, was the final day of the retreat, when students gathered in small groups for a “school mapping” exercise where they talked about the changes they would like to see at their school and presented their ideas.
“It was indeed powerful as students shared visual representations of NHS, qualities of the school environment that they would like to bring to life, obstacles to success and personal behaviors that will support the concept of their ideal school,” he said.