Growing future leadersA group of Woodbury High School students stand blindfolded in the school foyer. The students, who connect each other by holding a rope, have the task of locating and picking up a cup filled with water with the help of the group leader, who is not blindfolded and has the task of verbally directing the four blindfolded students. This is the set up for a leadership activity in Bob Nickleby’s principles of leadership class.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
A group of Woodbury High School students stand blindfolded in the school foyer.
The students, who connect each other by holding a rope, have the task of locating and picking up a cup filled with water with the help of the group leader, who is not blindfolded and has the task of verbally directing the four blindfolded students.
This is the set up for a leadership activity in Bob Nickleby’s principles of leadership class.
The class, which runs during the winter and spring trimesters, is designed to discuss and employ leadership skills and character building, Nickleby said.
“The students mainly learn about themselves,” he said. “They learn what their strengths and weaknesses are – that’s kind of the concept of the class.
“Students identify which skills they think they have and which skills they think they don’t have and we challenge them to improve on certain things through various activities.”
Preparing to lead
The class was developed about five years ago by former WHS teacher Gary Halverson.
Currently WHS has two sections of the class with 20 and 26 students, respectively.
During the class various concepts of leadership are discussed including: dedication, organization, visualization, education and association.
“These are the elements that allow you to look like you know what you’re doing,” Nickleby said.
The leadership class also employs various classroom activities to teach students the concepts of leadership, including student-directed team-building activities, such as the blindfold activity.
“One of my goals is to take them out of their comfort zones,” Nickleby said.
Additionally, the class frequently welcomes guest speakers who talk about different leadership skills and the principles of character.
Over the years Nickleby has recruited such speakers as former Mayor Bill Hargis, Woodbury Public Safety Director Lee Vague, local business professionals and school principals.
Another component of the class is community service where students get out in the community and put their leadership skills to practice, Nickleby said.
An upcoming community service aspect will have students working with the freshman advisory department on lesson plans.
“Hopefully it will benefit the whole school,” Nickleby said.
Learning about themselves
Nickleby said the biggest benefit of the class is that it helps bring students out of their shells and helps them realize that they can be leaders.
“The group that the class really benefits is the kids who kind of lack in confidence,” he said. “They are forced to do things they don’t normally do and they learn that they can do these things.”
Nickleby said he has seen many students blossom throughout the span of the class.
“It’s kind of like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it,” he said. “If they have the attitude that they really want to learn, they will.”
WHS senior Annie Palen said she has enjoyed the leadership class because it has helped prepare her for the future.
“You’re learning things that apply to real life,” she said.
WHS senior Kayla Hinton also said her time in the class has been worthwhile.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” she said.