Head of School Blog

Month of the Young Adolescent Leadership Summit to be held Monday

Jill Singleton
“We’re annoying, odd, irresponsible, useless, troubling, crazy, and weird,” wrote one middle school student when asked to reflect on what adults think about adolescents. “We’re young intelligent people who are going places,” wrote another. Conventional wisdom on the psychology of adolescence might suggest that these seemingly disparate responses could have been expressed by the same child on the same day – such is the inner turmoil of the age.

Anyone who remembers what it’s like to be aged 10-15 can certainly remember the emotional ups and downs that could occur on any given day. Feelings of self-confidence seemed all too fleeting and were frequently overshadowed by fear and self-doubt. Despite the roller coaster that is the inner life of the adolescent, many would agree that a desire to be heard and respected by adults is something experienced by all members of that age group.

Our Annual Leadership Summit, scheduled for Monday, November 7 from 8:30-9:30am provides an important forum for students to speak and for adults to listen. For one precious hour in the morning, students have the opportunity to share their appreciation, concerns and dreams with local leaders, parents, and community members. Now in its fourth year, All Saints put the international celebration on the map in NJ when it worked with the Governor to proclaim the event statewide in 2007. Many in our community are familiar with last year’s successful Leadership Summit, which focused on the ban of the plastic bag in Hoboken– an effort that ultimately earned our “Eco Saints” a $10,000 cash award from Scholastic and Lexus through their National Eco Challenge. This year’s focus is hunger and homelessness in Hoboken. Students will present formal speeches, art work and a special public service announcement about our month-long sock drive for the homeless. This year’s event also features a special musical partnership with students from the Mustard Seed School in Hoboken.

What were you afraid of when you were age 10-15? Today’s students responded with the following: “Spiders, snakes, death, failing, not being successful, losing the people I love and getting hurt inside, getting in trouble, war, that there’s no heaven.” Perhaps you remember wondering about whether aliens really exist, or what goes on with your parents when you’re not around, as some of our students did. I’m fairly certain the list of things you wondered about at their age did not include “terrorism” or “the economy” as some of our students’ lists did.

Treat yourself to an hour of listening to what young people have to say about themselves, their community and the world. Show your support as they practice their civic voices, develop their leadership skills and share a glimpse into the world as they experience it. Something tells me you’ll be glad you did.

Month of the Young Adolescent is an annual international collaborative effort of education, health, and youth-oriented organizations. Initiated by the Association for Middle Level Education, the month is designed to focus on the needs of children ages 10 to 15. The key messages for the celebration are:
• The importance of parents being knowledgeable about young adolescents and being actively involved in their lives;
• The understanding that healthy bodies plus healthy minds equal healthy young adolescents;
• The realization that the education young adolescents experience during this formative period of life will, in large measure, determine the future for all citizens; and
• The knowledge that every young adolescent should have the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and aspirations, and post-secondary education should be a possibility for all.

Questions, comments, ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com