Arguably, Erin Wilkin and Lenora Poulin get to see some of the best that Hope Secondary School has to offer.
As the staff heading up the school’s leadership program, they arrive at the school hours before classes start to meet the program’s 44 students, who also arrive at 7:30 a.m. to work through the program before the regularly scheduled classes start.
“One of the most important aspects of the leadership program is ‘service before self’ and it’s a philosophy that can be seen in almost everything the students get involved in,” Wilkin said.
“We raise money for all kinds of great causes in the community, ranging from the Terry Fox Run to raising money to buy gifts for less advantaged teenagers in the community (gifts that are distributed by social services in Hope).
“We also raise funds for Hope & Area Transition Society (Thunderbird Motel Project), and do warm-clothing drives and a lot of other activities to help give back to the community. In total, we raise about $20,000 a year, and much of that goes directly to a community charity.”
Poulin said the program also takes on a host of projects to make school life better for the rest of the student body. This includes the organization of school dances, spirit days, and Christmas activities for the school.
“This is a great program, one I’ve been involved with since it started in 1997, and every year I see the good citizens of tomorrow grow and develop before our eyes. These kids are going to be the leaders of tomorrow,” she said.
One of the most important aspects of the leadership program involves exposing the students to conferences where they can connect with thousands of other leadership students from across Canada.
“We do two conferences every year – the Canadian Leadership conference and BC Student Leadership Conference. Students go there to hear world-class speakers, learn about different approaches and ideas from their peers, and make connections that, through social media, can last a lifetime,” Poulin said.
Students fund about half of the cost of attending these conferences themselves and undertake a series of fundraisers to finance the remaining costs.
But this year, things are a little different. The opportunity has arisen for five students to travel to London, Ont., for a three-day Global Student Leadership Summit on School and Community Leadership (GSLS).
The summit takes place April 9 to 11 and hosts 3,000 students from around the world. The GSLS features more than 60 world-class speakers, interactive workshops and peer collaborations and it gives students and educators the opportunity to make real, valuable connections.
The problem is that the program in Hope can’t take on supplementing the $2,200 per student cost of this third conference, so the students have undertaken their own fundraising strategy.
They have prepared a presentation and a sponsorship package that they intend to present to local business leaders and community groups in the hopes that they can generate sponsorships for this worthwhile initiative.
“Any sponsorship money they raise will be shared equally among the group,” Wilkin said.
“It’s one of the best investments that the community could make. These are students who will return with new ideas and new ways of helping the community. It’s an investment, not just in these students, but in the community at large. These kids have proven that they give back more than they ever take.”
Anyone wishing to see the presentation, receive the sponsorship package, or simply wish to help sponsor one or more of the students can simply contact Hope Secondary School, or visit any of the following websites for more information: facebook.com/hssleadership/, cslc2017.studentleadership.ca, or studentleadership.ca