Middle School Leaders Prioritize Positivity and Belonging

The leadership program at SMUS is an important piece of preparing students for life. At the Middle School, the leadership program culminates in the WEB Leader program, available to Grade 8 students. (WEB stands for Where Everybody Belongs.) While the WEB leaders are most visible on the first day of the school year as they welcome new students to campus, the important work they do continues through until June.

Recently, our Grade 8 WEB leaders ran sessions with their Grade 6 schoolmates on ‘lift-ups’ – why it’s important to lift others up, instead of putting others down – keeping with the goal of ensuring everybody feels welcome and like they belong.

Two of our WEB leaders, Chelsea L. and Will P., connected with the SMUSpaper for a Q&A to highlight the amazing work that our Grade 8 leaders are doing this year.

What is the WEB Leader program?

The WEB Leader program is a platform for mentoring new students. On the first day of school, we led activities and discussions, with the hope of welcoming Middle School students into the SMUS community. While we were taking part in our icebreaker activities, not only were we establishing meaningful connections between us and our WEBlings, our WEBlings were also building important connections between each other.

Why did you want to become WEB leaders?

We became WEB leaders to help new students in our Middle School feel more comfortable in our community. Our own WEB leaders in Grade 6 went above and beyond for us, they made us feel less nervous at a new school full of new people, new activities, and more responsibility. We attribute the sense of belonging and welcome we had when we first came to SMUS to them and we believe that WEB really showcases what our school is about. So far being WEB leaders this year has been an amazing experience and one that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. 

What role do the WEB leaders play in the Middle School community?

Our main role at the Middle School is being a great leader for everyone. The four values at our school are intricately linked with our role as leaders at the Middle School. One of the four values at SMUS is courage. We as leaders use courage in every aspect of our school life, as we take risks and are not afraid to take initiative and stand up for what is right. The second value is respect. We respect the values and beliefs of others, and we try to meet in the middle and find solutions to issues through respect and positivity. The third value is honesty. As a leader, it is important to keep our word, follow through on our promises, and be honest at all times so that teachers and students alike can trust us. Finally, the last value is service. We demonstrate service to our community by doing whatever we can to help our peers in their times of need. We also provide service through our school’s Service Council, by giving funding and other resources to people who aren’t as fortunate as we are.

Another aspect of being a leader is lifting people up instead of putting people down. We presented a lesson to the Grade 6s about how to be nicer to each other (lifting people up) instead of being mean (putting people down).

What were the lift-up lessons about?

The purpose of the lift-up lesson was to demonstrate the power of hurtful words and actions. Through metaphorical activities, the Grade 6s learnt how hard it is to take back mean comments once they are spoken. In the end, we helped them realize the importance of saying nice things to each other and the positive effect that has on the entire community. We believe that these lessons were a roaring success for our Grade 6 students.

Why is it important for students to learn about lift-ups?

Especially in an age of social media, hurtful comments or words about people or things spread like wildfire. It is so important to understand the effect your posts online and your actions and words in school will have. More and more students in our Middle School feel pressured into saying or doing things by their peers because it is considered “cool,” when it isn’t. It is very important that our Grade 6s feel like they can be themselves without any negative judgment.

Do you have any tips for students to practice lift-ups?

  1. Treat others the way you wanted to be treated.
  2. If you do not have anything nice to say do not say it at all.
  3. Do what you can to spread positivity throughout the school, whether that is saying hi, welcoming someone into your social circle or holding a door open for someone.

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