Talons Leadership and the Re-Act Team – Conrad

As part of Talons, all students are asked to organize a Leadership service project, something that benefits the community. Students choose to lead bottle drives, tree plantings, garbage cleanups, sock collections, etc. Conrad, along with a Grade 10 student, ran a Re-Act team, organizing various random acts of kindness throughout the year. This is what he had to say in his project reflection:

1.       Summarize your leadership project in detail from beginning to end.

The Re-Act team is a school club led by Raiya and myself. Its purpose serves to volunteer in the local community by doing hands on projects and directly impacting peoples’ lives in a positive way. We try to focus on donating our time instead of giving away money. Our first activity was placing sticky notes with positive messages in locker areas and washrooms to help boost self-confidence of students in our school. With the help of TELUS, we decorated and stuffed stockings for less fortunate children in the Lower Mainland for Christmas. We also did many Random Acts of Kindness/Real Acts of Caring including decorating Christmas trees, making sandwiches for the homeless, picking up garbage, organizing the Flower Initiative (giving flowers to staff as a token of appreciation) and a day of opening doors at our school.

2.       Who assisted you with your project?

My co-chair Raiya and the rest of the Re-Act team helped assist me throughout our various projects. We also had many donations from commercial businesses such as TELUS, as well as support from administrators and teacher.

3.       Described what worked well.

Members of the Re-Act team were always able to brainstorm brilliant ideas, thus leading to a high participation level from the team. Our Re-Act team was fortunate to have consistent attendance and punctuality for both meetings and events. We always had enough people to help out with the different activities we facilitated. The projects were also completed within the allotted time. We had a diverse group on the Re-Act team with representatives from all grades and gender, all bringing forth unique skills. The team chemistry was quite good and there was no trouble in cooperating and utilizing teamwork to complete tasks. Others also acknowledged the fact that we are helping both in the school and in our local community.

4.       Describe some of the challenges you experienced.

We experienced some minor challenges, none of which made a huge impact in the results of our efforts. At times, we had to cancel our Re-Act Thursday lunch meetings due to scheduling conflicts with other events. I was astonished by the number of people who initially signed up for the team. Over the next few weeks, the number of members declined and we did not have as much participation. This was not exactly a challenge, but something I kept in mind when planning for future events. During one of our projects, we ran out of materials for decorating the Christmas trees, but quickly found other resources that we could make use of. These challenges were a good learning experience and will help me with my next leadership project.

 5.       How would you do to overcome these challenges next time?

To accommodate all of our members, we could possibly change the times of the meetings so that we could maximize participation. As Co-Chairs, we should inform members of the expected commitments before the signup to prevent anyone leaving Re-Act. When planning, we can make sure we have enough of the appropriate materials for various projects. We should always have a back-up plan in mind so that we can still find a solution if an event is unsuccessful. Finally, with frequent reminders on school announcements, we can improve our communication with team members and inform them of meetings at lunch. Another option would be communicating through emails, which could be easier and more convenient. That way, we could limit school announcements and still be able to contact team members. These are all great solutions we can use in the long-run to overcome challenges listed above.

6.       How many people participated in your project?

Approximately 30-40 members are on the Re-Act team.

7.       How would you rate the overall success of your project? Provide a personal summary to substantiate your rating.

Overall, this project went through many stages of success as we conducted various activities and did good deeds. We were very happy with the outcome of all of our projects.  The turnout was far better than we (Raiya and I) expected. I believe the effect of what we did had a good impact on our school and the teachers and people we helped.

8.       What surprised you the most?

From day one, I noticed that we did not have a lot of male members on the Re-Act team. Over 75% of the people in Re-Act were female. As a volunteer, you can enjoy the fulfillment of giving to your community and helping a worthy cause, but you can also gain valuable experience. I was surprised by the fact that there weren’t that many boys involved in volunteer work.

9.       What new skills did you acquire?

  • Leadership skills – the ability to motivate a group of people to complete a common goal
  • Social skills – learning to work with others and interacting in different ways to communicate
  • Management skills – planning and organizing a meeting including materials needed and certain tasks to be assigned

10.   Describe your interactions with those whom you worked with.

Often, throughout this project, I had to communicate and interact with Raiya, who was working with me on the project. We would meet together to go through our “game-plan” for group meetings. Generally, we had to decide what we were organizing and how we were going to coordinate it.  In a casual manner, we would take a couple of minutes to brainstorm our next activity. When I spoke with others, they were always enthusiastic about doing good deeds and seemed really engaged in the activities.

11.   The personal benefits of this experience were:

I learned a lot while doing this project. It taught me to open up my heart and think of how I could make a difference in the lives of others. I learned that even though we are doing small acts, they are still important. When we give our time instead of money, we can impact the lives of many in our society. This is something I believe everyone is capable of doing. Additionally, this experience has helped me lead other students to accomplish good deeds in and outside the school community.

12.   The group benefits of this experience were:

As a team, we learned to work together and spread awareness around the school. It encouraged everyone around the school to take notice of activities going on around them and to pitch in and help out. Instead of volunteering for the project for the sake of getting it done, the team was enthusiastic and was passionate about doing something special. Teamwork was a key factor to our success as we brainstormed and discussed future activities. We all had to compromise and share our skills.

13.   Describe a memorable experience during this project.

Throughout the Re-Act meetings, I encouraged and influenced some of my friends to join in on some of the projects. Because of this, I feel a personal satisfaction of doing good deeds and changing my attitude as a responsible citizen. Also, it taught me that through “power of the people” we can get more people to make a difference which I believe is really worth it.

The end of an era – Elleni

This time last year I was standing solidly in my grade nine shoes, and couldn’t even fathom the concept of eventually leaving talons and going on to conquer the rest of the school. I was sad that our grade tens would be leaving us, but I didn’t seem to process the fact that them leaving meant me getting pushed into one of their positions.

Regardless of whether or not I was ready, it happened, and this past year in talons has been filled with surprises, and joy, and laughter, and fun. There has never been a dull moment. I think every single one of us has really grown to new heights, and blossomed into a stronger person. The adventure trip is always a time to showcase these abilities, and, now that it’s approaching, we’re all starting to realize just how special talons is to us. I don’t doubt that there will be lots of biking, cold weather, singing, campfires, s’mores, and amazing displays of leadership. That leadership will emerge just in time for next year, where the grade nines will move into a new role, and a new group of talons will enter our classroom. Those new grade nines will be just as scared and apprehensive as all of the others before them, and they will look up to the grade tens for guidance. I don’t doubt that our grade nines will step up to the challenge, they just need to realize how capable they really are. People are finally starting to see that the year goes by really quickly, and that the program doesn’t stay the same for very long.

So here I am…standing meekly in my oh-so-big grade ten shoes, wishing that I didn’t have to leave them behind next year. Talons is familiar. Talons is comfortable. Talons is family. Can I picture math class without a teacher that can explain everything? No. Can I imagine English class without a million tangents and side topics? Never. Can I imagine us all being separated into different classrooms and subjects? Absolutely not. But it’s going to happen. Life pushes on whether you’re ready or not. Having more time with what we have now could be amazing! But sometimes you have to realize that it’s time to shed your old shoes, and step into some new ones.

Ready or not, here we come. I just hope that the world can handle us as grade elevens. 😛