Today’s evolving youth – tomorrow’s leaders

Laval Senior Academy, host school for TEDX Laval leadership development program

Today’s evolving youth – tomorrow’s leaders
From left: Douglas Howarth (Chairperson GB), Vicki Kaliotzakis (Commissioner), Melissa Rioux (VP), Nathalie Rollin (Principal), Jennifer Vaughn (VP), Sonia Garafolo (VP), Paolo Galati (Chairperson,SWLSB), Gildo Conte (TEDx), Emilio Migliozzi (Commissioner)
Renata Isopo

Leadership instills confidence and helps solve problems creatively, enhances team work and promotes collaboration with others. The opportunity to develop self-confidence in problem-solving paves a path to social and emotional development on a life-long journey of trying to make the world, and one’s community, a better place.

Natalie Rollin, principal of Laval Senior Academy (LSA) and its1600 students, has been offered a viable formula for youth leadership development, a cause she says is near and dear to her educator’s heart. Accepting the challenge of fashioning future leaders out of the cloth of youthful energy, she gladly declared LSA a HOST school for the world-renowned TEDX Youth Program,

Founded and developed by Gildo Conte, TEDX annually showcases 3000 events  world-wide in 164 countries and 50 languages. The organization actively embraces the TED formula (Technology, Entertainment, and Design), adding the X (unknown) factor for much more. Non-profit, TEDX proudly claims that it unifies students of all ages in all schools, English and French.

This past week LSA student emcees Michaela Duguay and Houda Mansuri eloquently welcomed, in both of Canada’s official languages, a full auditorium of 600 students and teachers who waited anxiously for presentations.

Invited guests included Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB) Chairperson Paolo Galati, accompanied by commissioners Emilio Migliozzi and Vicki Kaliotzakis. Douglas Howarth, Chairperson of LSA’s Governing Board, represented the 1000 families whose children attend the school. SWLSB Leadership Program consultant Daniel Johnson, and teachers M. Grêve and D. Rossi joined Gildo Conte on the guest list.

Brief but powerful presentations of public speaking were the menu of the day, with an entrée from Secondary 5 student Sam Beldie who movingly discussed, with  video help, his fight with autism; He was followed by Ahmed Omri Alaoui’s presentation on ‘Experience with refugees to Canada’. Vivian Zikos concluded the trio’s offering with insights on “How to live a perfect life.”

Three youth leaders making impeccable presentations, providing evidence that TEDX Youth is instrumental in building confidence in addressing large groups of peers and adults. Sam, Ahmed, and Vivian were stellar in provokng interest and magnificent in providing motivation and direction for peers by setting extraordinary examples of insight, articulation, eloquence, and composure.

“We believe that student leadership can be nurtured and grown, building great self-esteem and respect,” principal Rollin told TLN. “TEDX Youth fosters integrity, courage, independent thinking, belief-in-self, confidence, responsibility, and successful planning,” she added.

Today’s evolving youth – tomorrow’s leaders
From left: Melissa Rioux (VP), Jennifer Vaughn (VP), Douglas Howarth (GB Chair), Emilio Migliozzi (Commissioner), Nathalie Rollin (Principal), Paolo Galati (Chairperson SWLSB), Gildo Conte (TEDx), Vicki Kaliotzakis (Commissioner), Sonia Garafolo (VP).

“Being part of TEDX is a privilege and LSA offers all students ample opportunity to benefit from the program’s prime objective – to coach students to become the best version of themselves,” Rollin emphasized.

“My message to you, our students, our future leaders, is simple: Continue to inspire each other, and to be engaged in all the different experiences offered to you, SWLSB Chairperson Galati,” stated in his address.

“TEDX is a great platform for enrichment,” he added. “It allows you to work in collaboration with inspirational people who will help you grow and help you gain a different perspective on life.’

Galati told TLN that TEDX is an educational project which the school board can’t afford since it’s world-wide. It is well-organized and it gives a platform for students to excel in public speaking.

LSA has been given the opportunity to take leadership roles in the classroom. Activity-based, the plan focuses on strategies for young people who shy away from leadership tasks because they feel overwhelmed. It shows how to break tasks into workable ways to get things done, in the pursuit of what interests them, from which a passion may develop, and of course, propel them into leadership roles.

“First, it’s very fruitful and a way to gain a lot of insight,” Commissioner Migliozzi told TLN in a post-presentation interview. “It’s a platform to explain to those who also have issues.”

All communities need role models and leaders. All professions need people who use intelligence, creativity, and critical judgement.  Principal Rollin pointed to a priority of Laval Senior Academy “to use TEDX to promote and foster the growth and development of leadership skills within the school community specifically.”

“The next event will take place on April 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm at La Maison des arts de Laval,” TEDX Laval founder/creator Gildo Conte announced, enthusiasm ringing in his voice. “We have planned a three-hour evening where one can talk to the speakers and network with other TEDX fans.”   The call for applications has already begun and will continue until December 23.  To “Become a Speaker” an application must be filled.

This year, the TEDX Laval theme is “Latitude and Commotion”. Latitude as in ‘scope for freedom of action or thought’, commotion as in ‘a state of confused and noisy disturbance’.

Great leaders are born, but they can also be made.  Laval Senior Academy intends to fulfill this goal for all its students by being the one and only TEDX Host school, French or English, in Laval.