Fifty-six children and young adolescents from eight area schools attended the 5th Annual Holy Cross High School Elementary & Middle School Leadership Conference. Each year, Holy Cross student leaders, under the direction of Director of Student Activities, Megan Dwyer '05, teach the young visitors important lessons in leadership, communication, vision and collaboration through various activities and exercises. This year, students from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Swift Middle School, City Hill School, St. Mary St. Michael, St. Timothy, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Bernadette and Catholic Academy of Waterbury were in attendance.
"Our students took ownership of this day and shared their individual experiences," said Ms. Dwyer. "Consequently, the participants responded well. We were also fortunate to welcome Sister Pat McCarthy, CND as our keynote speaker. She reinforced the message that leaders need to take a stand for what they believe in. That is a great message for our students to hear in this day and age."
The participants took a test that examined their personality traits. After answering a number of questions, they were given a color that symbolized their dominant traits. "They learned a little bit more about themselves through this exercise," said Julia Flynn '19. "They learned how to fine tune these bits of their personalities and how to balance their strengths against others with similar or different traits."
Brian Parzyck '19 led an activity where participants had to untie knots on a rope. "You weren't allowed to take your hands off the rope," he said. "The kids had to do some deep thinking and utilize communication skills to work together as a team to untie the knots. It was great to see them problem solve together."
"Through this exercise, they learned how to listen to each other," said Jasmine Thorpe '19. "They also learned from their mistakes. When they were trying to take the knots out, if one idea didn't work, they would try something new."
This was Brian's third time working on the conference. Giving back to others is a value that was instilled in him by his family at a very early age. "I like being around the youth that is coming behind me," he said. "It is important to me that they receive guidance from someone who has already been in their place."
This was Julia's first time helping at the conference. Stepping into a leadership role was always of interest to her. This past summer, she was invited to the Holy Cross Leadership Conference at Notre Dame in Indiana. She describes it as one of the "best experiences of her life."
"I love being able to impact people and to learn from people," said Julia. "I learned so much at that conference. I brought a lot of those lessons back to our school."