By Lee Hughes
Staff reporter 

Endeavoring to produce leadership

Holiday party provides chance to learn communication, budgeting skills


Last updated 12/27/2019 at 10:13am

Lee Hughes

Endeavors Director Lyra McGirk watches while family members work with their Endeavor students to make Graham Cracker gingerbread houses at the school during its holiday family circle night on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

MEDICAL LAKE - Students at Medical Lake Endeavors spent the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 17 in the classroom. But they weren't there to study.

Endeavors teacher Char Edwards, dressed to the holiday nines in a red tutu, red and green stockings and festive fuzzy slippers, explained the event that evening was part of the alternative high leadership class that was launched at the beginning of the year.

The class involves, among other things, planning the schools four annual family night circles, including the evening's holiday circle, where parents and students sat together making gingerbread houses, or more accurately, Graham Cracker houses using frosting as glue and Skittles and other candies as decoration.

"The kids run it, I just kind of delegate and help a little bit," Edwards said of the leadership class.

The genesis of the family circle was Endeavors school improvement plan, which calls for increasing student and family engagement.

"Having the students take ownership of that has really been awesome - to see them plan and display their work for their parents," Edwards said.

One benefit of the family circle nights is the chance for parents and guardians to intermingle with students and teachers outside the typical educator role, while seeing what their students are working on, including the planning of the event.

"It's been fun to see them take ownership of that," Edwards said. "To see them step up and be creative."

It's a lessons-learned process for students, who, after their Halloween event, sat and reflected as a group on what they could improve upon.

For example, communication - they learned that simply hanging up a flyer wasn't effective, so flyers were made and sent home for the holiday event.

They also learned that an event must come in on budget, teaching them to scale their ideas to available funds.

That involved a challenge for teachers like Edwards.

"They all have such great ideas," she said. "You don't want to make them feel like their ideas aren't special or good."

So students winnowed their ideas down democratically - they voted on them.

There were no hurt feelings, Edwards said.

The entire process teaches students to work as a team and to reflect and learn from mistakes, all while being creative.

"They learn a lot of leadership skills," Edwards said. "Teamwork, problem-solving, communication, delegation."

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