Juniors' Leadership Institute Project Tackles Teen Relationships

student group

First Ring Student Leadership group (from left): Chris Brown, Ava Clause, Autumn Cruz, Aziza Mohamed, and Will Holden.

Earlier this month, a team of five Lakewood High School juniors and their mentors, teachers Aimee Guzowski and Gray Cooper, participated in the yearlong First Ring Student Leadership Institute. The institute is part of the First Ring Schools Collaborative, which brings together the school districts contingent to Cleveland in order to work together to solve issues that are common to all first ring districts and promote public school education.

The LHS students (Chris Brown, Ava Clause, Autumn Cruz, Will Holden, and Aziza Mohamed) and other districts’ leadership institute teams were tasked with choosing and researching a topic that was a problem amongst their peers, and then propose a solution to improve the problem.

Through leadership training, group dialogue, role play, research, and collaboration with their mentors, these students developed the skills, knowledge and confidence to effectively present their findings and recommendations to their superintendents and other school and community leaders at a final retreat on May 17. The Lakewood High project was The Dynamics of Teenage Romantic Relationships.

The LHS team conducted an anonymous and voluntary survey for students of LHS.  The results proved that problems with romantic relationships exist with students of Lakewood High School. Besides presenting the data at the retreat, the high school teams were also charged with being change agents in their schools by using the data and research they conducted to bring about action at their school to address the problem.

 The LHS team’s aim is to bring in experts to conduct monthly seminars during the school day on topics such as healthy relationships, communication, consent/empowerment, and mental health.

Participant Ava Clause is eager to take the skills she learned to help continue guiding the project back at school.

“Being chosen to participate in an institute that actively encourages students to recognize and analyze problems in our community and act towards finding a solution was a great learning experience for me as well as an opportunity to expand my leadership skills,” Ava said. “The other four students and I had a great time working together and are excited to see how our project continues.

Adviser Aimee Guzowski was also thrilled with her experience. “Working with these five juniors was tremendously rewarding,” Guzowski said. “They tackled a student issue they felt students need intervention and support with. I applaud not only their honesty, but their commitment to creating a research-based program that students can benefit from now and as they grow into adults.”





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