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TF students engage in leadership training


October 3, 2019

Shana Neesvig

BUILDING LEADERS – Thompson Falls seniors Brad Lantz and Kelsey Frank invited Justin Boudreau of Seeds Training to engage students in grades eight through twelve in developing skills in leadership, team building, confidence, respect and self-reflection.

A duo of seniors at Thompson Falls High School took it upon themselves to organize a team-building event for students and staff at the school last week. Together, Brad Lantz and Kelsey Frank found a way to join the school, Seeds Training, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) and Gaining Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) in providing a two-day seminar encouraging leadership and bonding between students and staff.

Lantz and Frank are no rookies in the leadership world. Both have attended National Youth Leadership Summit Conferences and apply the skill set learned in everyday life. "A lot of it was learning how to be a better 'you' and to learn more about yourself and how you can help others learn more about themselves," Lantz said about the conference he attended in San Francisco in July.

Frank felt the same of her experience in 2018 when she attended the leadership conference in Washington, D.C. "It was about learning to be better leaders in our community and to be a better me," she stated.

Taking their leadership roles to the next level, the students approached GEAR UP liaison Penny Beckman and asked her for assistance in organizing a leadership event for students in grades 8-12. With the blessing of Beckman, the rest is history, so they say.

The students went right to work to organize the event by inviting Seeds Training to the school. Seeds Training is a company dedicated to developing social, emotional, life, leadership and learning skills for youth. "This is the first year and first school they've (Seeds Training) been to in Montana," Frank shared with excitement for her and Lantz's accomplishment.

Both students stated that the seminar included games to enhance team building, social involvement, pushing comfort zones, self-reflection, discovering how different yet similar humans are, the ability to voice opinions and being respectful of other's opinions, and learning how to treat yourself and others better.

Lantz said his favorite part of the training was playing the "Simon Says" game, an exercise that taught the value of owning faults. "It was all about how people blame others for their mistakes instead of just owning them," commented Lantz. "Just admit it, be above the line and admit things. Be truthful rather than below the line; lying and being deceitful."

Frank shared that her favorite exercise has caused the most debate as many controversial questions were asked. Prior to explaining the exercise, she made it very clear that every student had the ability to abstain from participating and that the questions presented were posted by Thompson Falls students. She also shared that staff members attended a meeting prior to the conference and were informed about this exercise. Staff were asked to refrain from attending if they were not going to actively participate in the exercise with students.

She continued to explain the game as having three zones. One area of the gymnasium was designated for those who "agree" with the question asked, the middle area was for those with "no opinion" or who wish to "not participate," and another area was designated as the "disagree" zone.

Frank stated that some questions asked were about being pro-life, gun control and government operations as a few examples. She shared, "I think it is awesome for students to voice their opinions." In addition, she and Lantz felt this single exercise gave a human component to everyone who participated.

"This whole thing humanizes teachers and students," Frank said. "It created a big bond and gave everyone a respectful way to agree and disagree."

Lantz feels strongly that the event made students feel closer to one another as well as seeing teachers in a new way. He stated that perhaps the most powerful point was when everyone was given the opportunity to explain why they answered the opinion questions as they did. "It was emotional at times, but we got to know each other better."

Both students felt it was important to include the eighth-grade students in the event as they will be moving into the high school next year and will have a more developed and comfortable relationship with the older students and teachers. In reverse, it will be nice for the older students and staff to have a relationship developed with the upcoming students as well, making the transition easier for everyone.

What the future holds for Lantz and Frank as far as becoming global leaders is yet to be seen. Lantz believes the leadership training he has received thus far will certainly help him meet people in college. "I realize that the only thing that matters is, I just have to be myself," he said beaming with confidence.

Not only have the leadership training exercises helped Lantz and Frank, but it appears to be working with the other Thompson Falls students as well. Witnesses stated that they saw students, who usually do not interact with one another, socializing without being forced to. After all, people are people and we are all looking for the same thing, claimed Lantz and Frank.


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