“The Year to Lead”. This phrase serves as the Archdiocesan theme for 2019-2020. At St. Agnes, we have expanded this keynote term to underscore the qualities of leadership required to influence and enrich the lives of others through values-based action. This action has become known as “MODEL the Way”. The word “MODEL” serves as an acronym for the following virtues: Merciful–Optimistic–Discerning–Empowered–Leader. While St. Agnes has always developed leaders, this year we have become even more intentional about forming student leaders of heart, soul and mind.
The students of BEAR NATION are being taught that each of us must respond to our unique call to holiness by building virtue within our souls. Then with God’s grace, we must use the gift of virtue to bring about goodness and righteousness to benefit others and the world around us. Furthermore, our students learn to identify the right action, to perform it in the right way, at the right time for the right reasons.
Leadership doesn’t just happen. You must foster forward thinking growth in young people. For this reason, prior to the start of the school year, we brought the members of the Class of 2020 to Patapsco State Park for the first annual “8th Grade Challenge – A Call to Lead”. The picturesque location served as a suitable setting in which to introduce the concepts of transformational and service minded leadership. Applying Kouzes & Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership as the backdrop to the day, our students began to learn that leaders are called to: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. Using these five practices, we devoted our day to various challenges which strengthened the relationships and sense of community that our 8th grade class share together. Our challenges included the following: the Leadership Tap, the Teamwork Triad Challenge, the Blindfolded Creek Crossing Challenge, the All for One Jump Rope Challenge, and the Marble Move Challenge. Each of these challenges were used to develop collaborative communication as we empower the students to view themselves as the leaders of our school through values-based actions and behaviors that are grounded by the virtues of our faith.
As we began our day with a special prayer service, it was only fitting to conclude our day with two special gifts. The members of the Class of 2020 received their “Model the Way” wristband and a lapel pin in the form of a cross. This pin was embossed with our Scripture passage for the year: “I have called you by name. You are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1).
I would like to thank Mike Doyle, the Vice Chair of our School Board and current parent, for the thoughtful leadership and guidance that he provided to this day. We are truly blessed!