Thursday, August 26, 2010

16 high school students in first Leadership Mountain Brook program

16 high school students in first Leadership Mountain Brook program

Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 1:47 PM     Updated: Thursday, August 26, 2010, 2:11 PM
A group of 16 Mountain Brook High School juniors and seniors are learning the basics of leadership this school year.The group participated in a scavanger hunt around Crestline Village in Mountain Brook, Al.,Thur., Aug. 19, 2010. This group got points for jumping in front of Oak Street Garden Shop. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale)

The beginning of "Leadership Mountain Brook" coincided with the first day of school, as the 11th and 12th graders taking part went through an orientation session at the city's board of education office. By week's end, the group had participated in a scavenger hunt around Crestline Village and served as judges at Dawg Daze.

Margaret Clark, the high school's cooperative education counselor, said "Leadership" will provide the students with an in-depth look at how the city operates on a day-to-day basis. In the process, the students will learn how professionals in the public and private sectors use certain talents and job skills, such as proficiency with technology or interpersonal relations.

While the daily operations of a city may not seem like attention-grabbing stuff for a group of teenagers, the program will also involve students in building teams for tasks, such as helping to promote events for the city and its business community. Over the school year, the students also will work with individual city departments on certain projects. Participants will not only examine large issues, such as how the city's yearly budget comes together, but also smaller ones, such as how the Emmet O'Neal Library each day processes incoming and outgoing books.

What organizers hope is that students will bring fresh perspectives to how the city functions, and learn a little about themselves. "We'd like to see them come up with their own projects," Clark said. "They'll have a chance to see what it takes to improve the city, and hopefully develop their own leadership styles."  Students were recommended for the program and had to write an essay on leadership to be chosen. To take part, students will have to leave campus to participate in the program, for which they will receive classroom credit.

For the first day, students got talks from Mountain Brook Mayor Terry Oden and Superintendent Dicky Barlow.   "I hope you go into it with all the gusto you've got," Barlow told them. "You'll find that you learn a lot by asking questions, and listening."

Mountain Brook High School Principal Vic Wilson said part of the challenge in preparing students to become leaders is the often rapid changes wrought by technology. "We're preparing them for jobs that don't even exist now," he said. "While you can't prepare for everything, what is not going to change is the importance of relationships."

Tara Creeden, a junior, said she was recommended for the group by a teacher.
"I love it," she said. "It's a great opportunity. Even though we're learning specifically about how the city operates, the same principles can be applied to any everyday leadership position"

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