Catholic High School Leadership Day Teaches Students to Succeed: Marian College Offers Opportunities to Strengthen and Practice Leadership Skills

Article excerpt

At 11:15 p.m. on a spectacularly sunny November afternoon, a group of Catholic high school students from across Indiana walked down a set of stairs and into a sunken room with white marble walls and a Tiffany glass ceiling. This room was located in a historic mansion owned by Marian College, about 10 minutes north of downtown Indianapolis. The students had just come from a discussion about the importance of extracurricular activities in high school and how participation impacts college acceptances and scholarships. They were in this new room to learn about conflict resolution.

Marian College staffers and current students watched them settle into the folding chairs, notebooks in their laps and tentative smiles on their faces. They represented the fifth group of Catholic students to participate in Catholic High School Leadership Day on the campus of Marian College. The goal for the day was to help the high schoolers learn about their own leadership skills and to practice strengthening them through a series of workshops. There were also expectations-that they would take these skills back to their high school and practice them and that someday they, as college students, would help organize a program like this one, either here at Marian or at another college.

The room grew quiet as Penny Dollens-Smith, director of counseling services at Marian College, stepped toward the podium accompanied by Anna Glowinski, a Marian College student and San Damiano Scholar who helped deliver this workshop session. "According to the dictionary," began Ms. Dollens-Smith, "conflict is a prolonged battle. It is synonymous to discord."

By contrast, she continued, resolution is a process of reducing something into its constituent parts. "It is an explanation, as of a problem or puzzle. It's the solution," she said. She guided the group through a survey of their own traits about conflict and, using the parable of the Zax by Dr. Suess, showed them how stubbornness and lack of compromise leads to failure, not achievement, of goals. Ms. Dollens-Smith concluded her session by reminding the students that while conflict is inevitable, good leaders seize those moments and create "another chance at success."

Leadership Skills Necessary in the Real World

After the closing session in Marian Hall Chapel, Ms. Glowinski commented, "I think that great leadership skills are necessary in order to be successful in the real world. I'm involved in Catholic High School Leadership Day because this program helps other students succeed." Ms. Glowinski had participated in the program at Marian College when she was at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis. After high school graduation, Ms. Glowinski took her budding leadership skills even further and applied for acceptance into Marian's "Rebuild My Church" program, a course of study for students who wish to pursue leadership in the church, either as members of a religious order or as lay leaders. So powerful were her statements about developing a career that reflected God's wishes for her that she also received a San Damiano Scholarship. By definition, her scholarship requires her to be a leader on campus and to spend time in outreach and service to others.

"Anna is a great example of how the program can come full circle," explained Megan Houghton, the college's director of student activities and program coordinator for Catholic High School Leadership Day. "We hope that the high school students who come through this program go on to be remarkable college students," she continued.

This year's program included several current Marian College students, who helped lead team-building activities at the beginning of the day. Team building is an important part of Marian's Freshman Orientation Program as well as the Leadership Day program, and collaboration, group thinking and group management skills are considered important components of success in the classroom and in life. Ms. Houghton commented that the participants in this year's Leadership Day were great contributors during the sessions. …