Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 13, 2013

Students take leadership message to the streets

By SAM HOUSEHOLDER
THE GOSHEN NEWS

— GOSHEN — Nearly 100 students from area schools descended on downtown Goshen Wednesday as part of a leadership program, to spread the word about leadership to anyone who would listen.

The Indianapolis-based group C.L.A.S.S. (Connecting Learning Assures Successful Students), hosted a leadership summit at the Goshen Middle School Wednesday and according to C.L.A.S.S. consultant and Parkside Elementary School counselor Jan Holsopple, 96 students from the area participated.

The objective is to teach students to be leaders and encourage them to take on those roles.

“They can be leaders, they can speak up in their communities,” Holsopple said. “No matter what their age is. Character is what can drive their lives and how they influence others.”

The students worked for eight hours Wednesday, starting by breaking up into small groups and getting an assigned “lifeline” or character trait that a good leader should have.

The students then researched their words, such as integrity, cooperation and creativity, among others.

Students then boarded buses and met with Goshen city councilman Jeremy Stutsman and Goshen police chief Wade Branson on the Elkhart County courthouse lawn.

Stutsman and Branson talked to the children about leadership, doing the right thing and being respectful.

Students then went downtown to businesses and spread their word to patrons at places such as Electric Brew, Mattern’s, Southside Soda Shop and other businesses.

“We’re going to teach people about cooperation so we can stop all the wars and the fighting, so everybody can just cooperate with each other,” said Kathryn Detweiler, 10, a student at Model Elementary.

Some of the students were nervous at first, but got used to being taken out of their comfort zone.

“The most difficult thing was being really nervous about coming and talking to people you don’t know,” said Brooke Grewe, 11, who will be attending Goshen Middle School this fall.

The students even inspired the teachers, counselors and volunteers who were there to help the children.

“They inspire me more than I think I inspire them, just to see them going out and talking to strangers and putting themselves out there, that takes a lot for a 10 or 11-year-old to do,” said volunteer Shanda Armbruster.

Following their trip downtown the students went back to the middle school where they reflected on what they learned and put on a celebration event in the evening for parents and the community to see what they learned.