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Clarendon Hills students learn to be leaders

Hinsdale Central student Jordan Bradshaw leads students in Prospect School's leadership group through games Oct. 23. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media
Betsy Morgan, a Hinsdale Central student, organized games for members of the Prospect Leadership Team during an Oct. 23 meeting at Prospect School. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media
Hinsdale Central students Emma Day (left) and Maddie Roglich lead students from a Prospect School student leaders group in games Oct. 23 at Prospect. | Chuck Fieldman/Sun-Times Media

Leadership took on an especially fun twist Oct. 23 for about 120 Prospect School students who are members of the Prospect Student Leadership Team.

The group, which is limited to students in third through fifth grades, meets monthly to plan activities and help students learn leadership skills. The Oct. 23 team meeting featured a visit from a half-dozen Hinsdale Central students who are members of that school’s J. Kyle Braid Leadership Club, a local affiliate of a national foundation that focuses on teaching young people leadership skills.

Some sophomore athletes at Central are selected for the group and have the opportunity to attend a leadership camp and continue in the club until they graduate.

“We love coming here,” said Central senior Matt Santulli. “We want to be an example for the younger kids. They look up to us, and we want to show them how to get everyone working together.”

Santulli said the Central group coordinates games that teach how you can get people working together while also having fun.

The goal of the Prospect Student Leadership Team is to create young leaders, said Jennifer Pisani, a parent who is on the PTO Student Leadership Team Committee, along with Denise Howe and Karen Bots.

“It’s about being kind and respecting other people,” Pisani said. “We do community outreach projects and leadership games, and involvement in the group allows the kids the opportunity to get to know one another and reach across grade levels.”

Kelly Awick, a teacher representative for the Prospect Student Leadership Team, agrees with Pisani’s assessment of the group’s goals.

“It’s kind of citizenship,” she said. “It’s about building on positive relationships and how to reach out to other students.”

Awick said it’s great having the Hinsdale Central students serve as an example about making good decisions at an early age, “because when you do that, in the end there are great rewards.”

Prospect third-grader Lily Ging was happy about being able to join the leadership team this year.

“I like leading group projects; it’ fun,” she said. “We learn to be kind and not negative; those are important things for being a good leader.”

Lily said she enjoyed having the Central students lead the meeting.

“My sister is a high school kid, too,” she said. “They made it fun for us with the games we played, and it’s easy to talk to them.”

Fifth-grader Kacey Schlais is in her third year as a member of the leadership team at her school.

“I like being a leader and helping other kids whenever I can,” she said. “That’s what we learn about; being a leader means standing up for other people and helping them. Sometimes, it takes a lot of courage to do that, but it really feels good when you can help someone else.”

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