Incoming BCS freshmen make a LEAP towards adulthood

Incoming Brooklyn Center Secondary School freshmen pose with their LEAP summer service leadership program certificates on July 26. (Sun Post staff photo by Christiaan Tarbox)

With the new school year barreling into view, a cadre of incoming Brooklyn Center freshmen demonstrated newly obtained leadership and teamwork skills.

On July 26, approximately two dozen 9th-graders-to-be offered special presentations to family and Brooklyn Center Secondary School staff members in the BCS cafeteria, summarizing their involvement and work in a variety of summer service leadership programs as part of BCS’ LEAP program.

“LEAP is a summer camp we have here at (BCS),” said BCS College and Career Readiness Supervisor Joe Kane. “We realized a couple years ago that we needed to do something different for our incoming freshmen. So we created this program because a lot of students desperately want to show that they are becoming young adults … but aren’t able to show that. So we created this idea of a service leadership program for them to understand that at 13, 14 years old, they can make an impact in their community.”

The students were split into different groups and posted at different sites around Brooklyn Center, performing more than 250 combined hours of services. According to Kane, the program helped bolster the students’ skills in leadership, communication and teamwork as they approach adulthood and the workforce.

“Students have to complete a presentation in front of the community, and (they get) the opportunity to earn high school credit,” said Kane. “They could earn .25 credits and start high school right and really have the opportunity to help themselves further down the line as a high school student.”

The groups included service at the BCS Media Center, the SUNNY summer food program, the Loaves and Fishes meal service, tutoring at Earle Brown Elementary, serving as paraprofessional assistants at Earle Brown Elementary recesses, and a project creating a promo video for LEAP.

Students Aniya White, Mariah Trotter and Arianna Conway talked about their experiences working at Earle Brown recesses.

“The kids were able to interact with each other and make new friends, and they learned respect while having fun,” said White.

“I understand how teachers get frustrated with the kids wandering off,” said Trotter. “We would help out, and make sure that the kids were in order and at classes.”

“When you help a community, then (others) will want to help the community, and it’ll make the world better,” said Conway.

Meanwhile, students Athina Schiefelbein and Daniel Retic gained immense insight and experience while serving as EBE tutors.

“I helped kids learn, and when I was younger, I never got that experience,” said Schiefelbein. “I was always forced to learn in a harsh environment, so seeing (the kids being) happy was exciting.”

“I learned that teachers have a hard job, and that you’ve got to respect them,” said Retic. “It was the old school that I went to, so I got to see how it changed and how it got better.”

And student Daidyena Frost said that, aside from gaining new technical skills working on the LEAP promo video, she was proud of how she ultimately contributed to the school’s culture.

“It made me feel good knowing that I can bring people into our school and have a new vibe for the school,” said Frost.

The participating students are as follows: Lesny Ortega Ortiz and Aylet Hernandez Ochoa for the Media Center; Moyin Abiodun, Eva Gunderman, Stephanie Arreola Lara and Uliyah Moua for SUNNY; Catherine Ortiz Martinez, Melissa Claveria Pirin, Bryan Resendez Ortiz and Mirca Espinoza Cruz for Loaves and Fishes; Daniel Retic, Athina Schiefelbein, Julio Aguilar Portillo, Kathleen Mason, Joe Mason, Mya McDowell and Christianna Jefferson Moore for Earle Brown tutoring; Daidyena Frost and Uliyah Moua for the LEAP promo video; and Arianna Conway, Cha Vang, Aniya White, Nayeli Williams and Mariah Trotter for Earle Brown recess.

Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]