Sometimes, sitting down with the school principal can be a good thing. When the school superintendent is invited, the experience can become even more meaningful.
Nine Greenbrier Middle School eighth-graders had lunch with their principal, Sharon Carson, Superintendent Charles Nagle and many mentors from the community in the school media center Thursday.
These WolfPACT (Putting All Children on Track) leaders were part of an initiative started by graduation coach Dolly Morris in January. As gifted math students, they held weekly study sessions to tutor peers who are at risk of getting off track for high-school graduation.
Morris said the program was designed to give the gifted pupils an opportunity to exercise their leadership capabilities, and it gave the at-risk eighth-graders a chance to improve their academic skills.
The graduation coach said she planned the luncheon to give the tutors an experience they would always remember.
"You've given of your time, and you've given of your talent to meet need where there was need," Morris told the pupils.
She also wanted them to have the chance to learn about leadership from the school superintendent.
"He epitomizes what it means to rise to leadership in the top of our organization," said Morris.
Nagle told the pupils that leaders help other people better themselves.
"Leadership is when opportunity meets preparation," he said. "If you don't prepare, you'll never be a leader."
Carson also praised the eighth-graders for helping their peers.
"You have stepped up, and that's leadership. You have taken a risk, and that's leadership. You have put yourself out there for somebody else, and that's leadership," the principal said.
Wendy Withrow, a parent mentor who oversaw the study sessions, also told the pupils they had made a difference in the at-risk pupils' lives. In particular, she said, they helped a boy she has known since he was in kindergarten.
"He felt such a connection. He felt accepted," Withrow said. "It's just made a tremendous difference spending Monday mornings knowing all of you accepted him for who he was.
''He now looks forward to going to high school."
Peer tutors Tiffany Wannamaker and Austin Bryan said they took part in the program to help other people. However, the two 14-year-olds said they also learned from the study group.
"I learned how to work with people better, and I learned that people learn in different ways," Tiffany said.
Austin also discovered that people are not always as confident as they appear.
"I learned that some of these people who seemed really secure and steady on the outside can be quite timid when it comes to their studies," he said.
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