By: Melissa Boas, 9thGradeHigh School Counselor
Thom Stecher, Executive Director, Thom Stecher & Associates
A select group of students, from Eastern Lancaster County School District, had the unique experience and privilege to participate in this year’s PA Masonic Life Skills Conference. The conference focuses on social emotional learning and leadership skills, and on the basics of Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships– the essential 3 R’s for success in life. Eighteen high school students and two middle school students represented Garden Spot. Each student was chosen as, “a person who demonstrates the capability to display phenomenal leadership.”
Students agreed to attend the leadership conference knowing that the goal was to return to Garden Spot ready to mentor freshman students, to help improvethe freshman transition experience, and to create individual plans of action on how they planned to positively impact the school culture and community. The week proved to be a “mind blowing” experience, in the words of Jessica Babich, a junior who took part in the conference.
There were approximately 100 students from all over PA, as well as DE, NJ and NY. Garden Spot students were fortunate to meet a variety of people with diverse backgrounds and an eagerness to achieve the same goal……to make a difference within their school community.
The conference taught students how to create empathy and understanding, improve communication, handle conflicts, trust their own emotions, and define what it means to be a good person and a good leader. The foundation of the week was centered on respecting others, being responsible, trusting the group and building healthy relationships, and finally, stretching their self-confidence past their comfort zones. Students grew as individuals and looked within themselves, discovering personal traits and identifying strengths that contribute to strong leadership and accomplishing life-long goals.
These 20 students have since returned to Garden Spot with a fresh new outlook. They are now on a mission to make a difference by being courageous, developing supportive relationships, and believing that they can have a positive impact on improving the Garden Spot school community.
“It was definitely the most educational, beneficial, and one of the most exciting weeks of my life. I now know the kind of person I want to be,” said junior Nick Good.
The Masonic Life Skills Conference, through the generosity of the Freemasons of Pennsylvania and the dedication and commitment of the Conference staff has once again touched the lives of students, and now, in partnership with the school administration, will help to transform an entire school District. Garden Spot can expect many great things to come!