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BVHS seniors prepare for leadership
By By Alica P. Thiele
Challenger editor

August 16. 2013 10:16AM
As Brandon Valley incoming seniors sat onstage in the Brandon Valley High School Performing Arts Center, Todd Mass asked them, “How do you make your school a better place?” Seniors spent the afternoon Aug. 6 studying ways to answer that question, knowing that they, individually and as a class, can make a big difference in the answer.

The retreat was sponsored by the school and Youth Frontiers, an Upper Midwest character education organization.

Seniors talked about people at the school they admire, and why. They discussed qualities of leadership and how they could exhibit those qualities themselves.

Evelyn Jorgenson started school at Brandon Valley in the ninth grade. She remembers attending Freshmen Unity Day, and how various seniors that year made her feel welcome. She hopes to pay that forward to incoming freshmen this year.

Brandon Valley High School Principal Gregg Talcott said one purpose of the retreat is to train seniors for this year’s Freshmen Unity Day, which was held Tuesday. Senior volunteers give incoming freshmen a tour of the school, show them their home rooms, help illustrate high school rules and traditions, and introduce them to others.

The senior retreat also helps seniors “take over the reins of leadership,” Talcott said.

Alexa Kruse, a Brandon Valley student since the eighth grade, said students spent time talking about class goals for the year. In past years, the senior class has raised money for specific causes, for example.

Jorgenson said the retreat helped her get to know her classmates better. “It was interesting to find people who have some of the same views,” she said.

Ingrid Rief has gone to Brandon Valley since kindergarten, but even she learned new things about her classmates. “It’s different to see how everyone grew up,” she said.

The retreat reminded her to think about others instead of herself.
A key focus of the retreat is to learn how to respond to bullying and disrespect, according to Youth Frontiers literature. The retreat is structured to help seniors examine how their daily choices affect their classmates, teachers and the greater school community.

Senior Kaija Nitz said something that stood out for her was the direction to “pick up the piece in front of you.” In a play on words, she thought of it as picking up a “peace,” and that helped her remember that challenges and problems are not too big to handle.

Senior Bailey Quanbeck said a recurring theme of the retreat was appreciation of other students, teachers, staff and district. She said she will remember the goals she learned at the retreat and will “reach out to other people.”

Members of the Brandon Valley High School Class of 2014 look for partners as they portray eggs, chickens and other characters. Classmates got together last week for a leadership seminar before they start their senior year. Photo by Alica P. Thiele

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