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On October 20, 2016, Mount Carmel welcomed 7th and 8th gradestudents from 6 different grammar schools to its inaugural Caravan Fall Leadership Conference. Boys and girls from Christ the King, St. Barnabas, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Ailbe, St. Philip Neri, and Sacred Heart (east side) schools spent the day on Mount Carmel’s discussing how to develop leadership potential and how to plan a signature event or program for their school community. Click here to read more…
The morning began with a keynote address by Alderman Matt O’Shea ‘87. Alderman O’Shea spoke eloquently of how he first began to develop his leadership skills as a student at Mount Carmel. During his time as a Mount Carmel student, Alderman O’Shea recognized that he had the potential to be a future leader in his community. “I was incredibly lucky to receive a Catholic education,” Alderman O’Shea explained, “I have the ability now to use the leadership skills I learned in high school towards helping a community I care deeply for.” Alderman O’Shea listens attentively to his constituents’ needs and then advocates for their best interests on the local government level. He relishes the opportunity to address tough issues and resolve conflicts in an equitable way for all parties involved.

After shaking hands and getting their pictures taken with Alderman O’Shea, the students began their work in break-out leadership workshops. With Mount Carmel Athletic Director Dan LaCount, students learned what it takes to plan and run a successful athletic event at their school. Patrick McGarry, Director of Student Activities, demonstrated the energy and focus it takes to pull off a successful social event by putting on a mock pep-rally for students. Matthew Hawk, Admissions Specialist and organizer of the Leadership Conference, explained the benefits of hosting a well-run volunteer service event and outlined criteria for identifying potential sites for service-learning. Mike Holland, Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement, and Rebecca Kohn, Advancement Coordinator, teamed up to show students how to raise funds for their event or program. And Claire Spakowski, Director of Marketing, demonstrated how to promote interest in an event or program through social media and print marketing campaigns.

After the workshops, students reconvened with their school groups to plan their own event or program using the tools they had learned. Current Mount Carmel students helped each group gather their ideas and prepare for their final presentation, including freshman Teddy Bracewell of Beverly, Chicago who also graduated from Christ the King grammar school. “It was great that the Christ the King students and other kids were able to have the opportunity to learn leadership skills,” he said.

The schools presented their events or programs to the entire group and were encouraged to put their plans into action at their own schools upon leaving for the day. “I was really impressed by their ideas,” described Mount Carmel freshmen Ola Abraham of South Shore, Chicago and graduate of St. Philip Neri grammar school. “It seemed like they got a lot out of the day, and I hope to see them here again next year.”

In follow-up meetings with grammar school principals and students, Mr. Hawk has received nothing but positive feedback. For several male students who attended, their positive experiences at the Leadership Conference were the deciding factor in their decisions to attend Mount Carmel for next school year. Reports of the planning and implementation of the students’ events and programs have been encouraging and testify to the success of the inaugural Caravan Fall Leadership Conference. Mount Carmel looks forward to hosting another Caravan Fall Leadership Conference this fall and expanding it to include even more schools.


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