On April 24th – 26th, Robert Thirsk High School was proud to host the 3rd annual International Youth Leadership Summit. Comets came out in full force to welcome our visiting students from Denmark and China, distinguished guests and speakers, as well as students from high schools across Calgary and Alberta. The summit began with an opening ceremonies mixer followed by speeches from David Stevenson, Chief Superintendent of the Calgary Board of Education, Brant Parker, Director, Area 2, and our own principal Chris Meaden providing us all with some interesting leadership ideas. Following this, the attending students participated in the icebreaker activity ‘World of 100’. This activity truly put into perspective how much we have compared to other third world countries.
The next morning, Allan Markin led an engaging keynote speech about how being a leader and taking charge has affected his life, and how it can influence others, even starting from a young age. Following the speech, students went throughout the school to attend different small-group sessions based on their individual interests as young leaders. Some topics included international opportunities for CBE students, and the Jane Goodall Society discussing how we can be social innovators. In the afternoon, there was a panel of young leaders discussing the importance of active citizenship. Panelists included Ryan Hofer, known for his work with the Canadian Red Cross, and Thirsk’s own Logan Parent, known for his work in Ghana with Free The Children. The attendees were further engaged, using Twitter hashtags to ask the panelists further questions or to provide comments. After this panel, students were provided with the opportunity to attend extra sessions based on their interests. These included “Women for Women in Afghanistan,” “Aboriginal Youth Issues,” and an information session for an upcoming Denmark excursion.
Saturday began with a riveting talk by Ward 8 City Councillor Evan Woolley on the importance of youth leaders. Following this, students took to the gym for a hip-hop dance lesson. Spolumbo’s provided a delicious lunch, fuelling the attendees for a discussion from the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Research on the importance of storytelling for leaders. After this, students could brainstorm innovative initiatives to demonstrate their leadership abilities, and to potentially receive a grant from the Calgary Educational Partnerships Foundation in order to make the initiative a reality. The winners of this grant will use the money to help solve a local or global issue from a fresh perspective and a unique youthful outlook.
None of this could have been completed without the help of our dedicated community, including the IYLS planning committee, Robert Thirsk teachers, administration, and the students who volunteered countless hours to ensure the event was a success. A big thanks is also owed to RTHS’ own Leadership students, whose help with planning and volunteering at the event was extremely valuable. All in all, the International Youth Leadership Summit was a brilliant experience and a huge success, allowing all students to be inspired, and allowing Comets to welcome the city to our beautiful new building!
-C.B. and J.F. from Robert Thirsk High School