Leaving the Comfort Zone Woodland Students Learn Teamwork and Leadership Skills

Article excerpt

They talked to kids they normally do not talk to in school.

And they worked together to achieve feats such as designing a holder to protect an egg.

It was all about teamwork and taking on leadership roles at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee where 64 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders participated recently in Challenge Leadership Day.

"One of the best things about being a leader is you can make a difference in someone else's life," said Ted Wiese of Wiese Training and Development in Carmel, Ind.

Wiese led the 64 students through a series of team building exercises designed to give them self-confidence and problem-solving abilities.

"It makes you think how to treat people differently," said seventh-grader Jilly Gokalgandhi. "If every person did this, they would have a better feeling."

Eighth-grader Barret Hale said that even though they were with a group of people they normally do not hang around with, they realized they can work together.

"It's not as hard as people think it is. You have go out of your comfort zone," Hale said, referring to having different grade levels interact.

With there being about 2,300 students at the middle school, students tend to keep to the same groups and the challenge program helps them to be more self-confident, said teacher Carrie Peterson, who helped develop the 64 student leaders, along with teachers Gloria Tinucci and Christy Lawless and student intervention coordinator Tiffany Drake.

The students are the core group of individuals that can be counted upon to represent the school in community service activities such as planning dances, leaf raking for elderly and working at the Staben House in Waukegan, Peterson said.

Sixth-grader Austin Fortner said, "We are here to learn to be an example and hopefully others will follow that."

Register to vote in District 46: Grayslake Area Elementary District 46 is hosting voter registration at its schools from 6 to 8 p. …