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Luncheon helps develop leadership skills

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High school principals joined students at Berrendo’s monthly leadership luncheon on Friday as part of the Leadership and Me program. Pictured from left are Ayden Luck, Principal Brian Luck, Joaquin Bolanos, Principal Ruben Bolanos, Wesley O’Connor, Roman Grado and Juan Meza Gutierrez. (Alison Penn Photo)

High school principals visit with Berrendo Elementary students

A recent luncheon recognized students who display leadership skills and allowed them to have a meal with local leaders.

Berrendo Elementary School (BES) Principal Brittany Griffin explained “Leadership Luncheons” are based on Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Griffin listed the seven habits as “sharpen the saw; be proactive; begin with an end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood and synergize.”

The luncheon happens twice a month. Students are encouraged to use good manners, dress nicely and ask questions of community leaders after introducing themselves and shaking hands with the leaders. Griffin said the luncheons are one of the positive reinforcement practices at BES, a “Leader in Me” school.

Students displaying leadership skills and the seven habits earn a “Cool Cat” award and are entered into drawing to be selected for the luncheons. Griffin explained there are two lunches — one for kindergarten through second grade and the other for students from third through fifth grade. She said there are usually six students at each lunch, two from each grade.

Roswell High School Principal Ruben Bolanos and Goddard High School Principal Brian Luck joined students at Friday’s luncheon as community leaders.

Students asked about sports, and whether principals Bolanos and Luck knew their relatives. They also asked how much the principals made, read jokes from their milk cartons and asked what it was like to deal with high schoolers.

Students at the third through fifth-grade luncheon were Wesley O’Connor, 11; Joaquin Bolanos, 11; Juan Meza, 8; Roman Grado, 9 and Ayden Luck, 10. Ruby Ortega was another student selected, but was not present for the lunch.

O’Connor asked if the two high schools would ever be combined.

“It’s taken me a while to get to that place, but that would be awesome,” Principal Luck said. “If the town would get behind it and could stop splitting all of our resources that would be way cool.”

“So like Mr. Luck was saying — the benefits of having one school would be that this whole community, they wouldn’t have to worry about ‘oh I have to support this school’ or ‘I have to support this school,’ we’re supporting the Roswell Rockets, lets just say that was the name …” Principal Bolanos added.

Griffin said the luncheons are one of the positive reinforcement practices at BES. Gifted teacher Renee Maloney, who organizes the luncheons, and Griffin said they were not aware of any other schools in the district participating. Maloney guessed the teacher before her did the program for at least ten years and it has been changed over time.

As a school-wide effort, students are aware of the seven habits of effective leaders. Last week’s theme was “synergize” and Griffin said students are allowed extra recess time to relax and be social in order to understand making time for themselves.

“It’s something we talk about every day on the announcements,” Griffin said. “They know the habit that we’re focusing on for the week and we do quotes about it and teachers do lessons in the classrooms based on it …”

Griffin said she was the first leader and subsequently the school has had other leaders, such as Roswell Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy, artist Kim Wiggins, a rancher, trainers for the district attorney dog program, Amanda Mason from Sippy and Opal’s Ice Cream & Sweet Treats and more. For her luncheon, Griffin said it was “nice to reconnect with the kids” and it gave her perspective on her own work at the school.

“Leadership can be learned,” Dr. McIlroy wrote in a statement. “I believe students must be taught how to be a good leader because often they only see examples of leading by power. Leadership is more often setting a good example, helping people work together, and serving others.”

Maloney said the leaders often “bend over backward” to attend and she has received “positive feedback” from leaders on what the luncheons instill in students. Griffin said the luncheons are important for students to understand that community leaders are people “who were just like you” and were students at one time.

In a room decorated with blue and red, letterman jackets and yearbooks, both Maloney and Griffin spoke to the division in the community about supporting Roswell High School or Goddard High. Griffin said the sons of the principals are students at Berrendo. Griffen said she hoped the lunch would serve as an example that the division is smaller than it appears.

“We have a working lunch and they eat while they talk,” Maloney said. “And we try to work on manners, (they) put their napkins in their laps and say “yes sir” and “no sir” and so I think that really shows our school works on that, because when we go out into public doing field trips and stuff you can tell. You can just tell that they are around it a lot.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.