Building Tomorrow's Leaders Today!
Typically, June marks the end of a busy school year, the start of summer and a relaxed schedule. Not true for Oakland Catholic High School! The month of June was packed with mission trips, travel abroad, conference presentations, faculty professional development, and a brand-new leadership endeavor for students. Thanks to the vision and generosity of donors who seeded the newly established Leadership Fund at Oakland Catholic High School, 10 rising OC Juniors had the opportunity to participate in the pilot of a new partnership between Oakland Catholic High School and Outdoor Odyssey.
Established in 1998 on 500 acres in the Laurel Highlands, Outdoor Odyssey provides a unique wilderness experience that incorporates leadership skills, high adventure, and team-building into a week-long curriculum that sets the stage for a year of continuous activity as graduates of the Leadership Academy cultivate their new skills in providing leadership and mentoring to peers and younger students.
Rising Juniors Flynn Anthony, Elita Calabrese, Catherine Chung, Gwen Havern, Hannah Henn, Anna Mayberry, Angela McKinzie, Carina Novak, Eliane Rectenwald, and Bennett Spencer accepted the invitation to form the first Leadership Academy Team of Oakland Catholic, stepping up to the challenges presented to them with great success. For seven days they faced various adversities and obstacles, pushed themselves far outside their comfort zones, and managed the group dynamics that every leader faces as she figures out the curveballs thrown in her direction while maintaining a positive attitude and encouraging those around her. English teacher Jane Jeffries, OCHS'08, stayed all week, participating in many of the challenges herself. Principal Marisa Greco and President Mary Claire Kasunic shared a chaperone position by splitting the week, and School Counselors Elyse Lanzendorfer and Angela Orbin both rotated through a full 24-hour stay to observe the activities and the leadership building process. In addition to physical challenges such as a high ropes course, a tower climb and zipline escape, a strenuous hike in the rain outfitted with complete gear to a campsite in the woods where the team spent the night, and spelunking in Bear Cave, the young women engaged in leadership discussion sessions, debriefing conversations after challenges, and motivational strategy talks. Based on a set of leadership principles that apply to everyday work, life, and relationships, the Outdoor Odyssey program is more than the exhilaration of a high adventure experience. The ultimate goal is to build confidence in the individual while instilling ideas on how that individual can become a more effective leader. Building the individual leader is definitely a focus, but the program also prioritizes the team and the importance of communication, trust, cooperation, and acceptance among all members of any team. The OC Team, housed in Monongahela Cabin, was absolutely the best...as shouted out in the chant Elita created for them during the bonding experience.
Oakland Catholic looks forward to reaping the benefits of their leadership training in the coming school year and plan to send another cohort of OC Leaders to Outdoor Odyssey next June!