Finding Our Footing (Part I)

By Vera Wilcox

The seed for hosting the CAIS Senior Leadership Conference was planted last April when four Grade 11 LCS students - Allie Avard, Ben Dunk, Robyn Hotte and Noah Storey attended the CAIS conference at Toronto French School. They also got a little "encouragement" when they were introduced to our incoming Head of School, Anne-Marie Kee who enthusiastically said, “Wouldn't it be great if we hosted this at LCS next year!"  And so the magic began when the three students - Allie, Robyn, and Noah were joined by Joe Ribbins to become the directors of this student-driven conference for students from across Canada.
The student team began preliminary planning discussions in May 2017, when the theme Finding Our Footing was created and a framework developed. Over the summer, the team reflected on, investigated and developed their ideas for the conference and starting in September, the "Fab Four" (as they affectionately came to be known) began meeting weekly with staff advisors Peter O'Grady, Vicky Boomgaardt, John Runza and Vera Wilcox. Other staff members including Janice Runza, Jen Horrigan and Tobey Gullick-Scott also volunteered their support.

Following many discussions, it was decided that the four pillars of the conference should be Environmental Stewardship, Social Responsibility, Digital Citizenship and Personal Leadership Development. The goal was to have students and staff alike learn how they could make a positive meaningful difference in their schools and our world. Finding the right speakers to enlighten, challenge and help everyone find and keep their footing, as they travelled their journeys to make a difference, was key.

In the final line-up, the conference speakers included:
  • Joel Hilchey - Being Your Best Self -  The Leader Within
  • Sunshine Tenasco - Finding your courage to act, leading through action and example
  • Dr.Betsy McGregor - Moving from passion to action
  • ‘Get Real’ Presentation - Being yourself, breaking down prejudice, promoting unity, and fostering compassion in the world
  • Barry Wright - Defining Leadership
It was great to see members of the LCS community jump in to offer their support as well. From Rhiannon Gilbart '12 who designed the logo for the conference, alumnus Nik Nemeczek ‘14 who provided the swag bags, t-shirts, hats and water bottles and the more than 30 students who took “pod” leadership training sessions, to the volunteer students and staff who ran the choice workshops and activity sessions, the Aramark staff who continually provided snacks and all of the meals, the maintenance department that worked to clear the snow and build our closing fire pit and the entire school community who welcomed everyone and showed them why LCS is such a special place!

The magic that was created between Wednesday, April 18 and Saturday, April 21 was felt by everyone involved. There was rich learning, sharing, and inspiration and new friendships were formed. It was difficult to say goodbye to the student delegates and staff on Sunday.

Stay tuned next week to read about the conference highlights from our students.
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4391 County Road 29, Lakefield Ontario K0L 2H0   705.652.3324


Lakefield College School is a private, coeducational boarding and day school for students in grades 9 through 12, located in Lakefield, Ontario, Canada.

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