Friday, February 7, 2014
By ABBY SLANKER
Poland Union Elementary School hosted Family Leadership Night and welcomed its fourth-grade students and their families Jan. 14. The evening, organized by Poland Union Principal Mike Masucci, revolved around a series of activities centered on leadership traits.
Students and their families rotated through three stations set up in the school. Stations included Juvenile Judge Theresa Dellick, Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club Manager of Diversity Initiatives Chaz Kellem and Youngstown State University seniors Frank Walton and Deandre Radcliffe, who are members of the Black Student Union, which is part of the YSU Diversity Program. Having court in the gym was Juvenile Judge Theresa Dellick, who was presiding over a trial of fourth-grade teachers who were accused of giving too much homework. Judge Dellick started her presentation by providing a background in trials, explaining to her audience that there are two types of trials, criminal and civil, and the demonstration tonight was a civil trial.
“In a civil trial, there are attorneys, witnesses, a jury and a judge. The attorneys give opening statements and then question the witnesses. There are eight people on a civil jury and 12 people on a criminal jury. When a jury is dismissed to deliberate, they could take 20 minutes or it could be days before they come to a decision,” Judge Dellick said.
Judge Dellick and a student serving as a junior judge presided over the civil trial of the Poland Union fourth-grade teachers. After opening statements and questioning of the fourth-grade teachers serving as witnesses, the jury, which was made up of students, was dismissed to deliberate. After a few minutes, the jury returned with the verdict the teachers do not assign too much homework, which was read by the jury foreman. Judge Dellick then thanked the members of the jury for their service and dismissed them to end the trial.
“I like these type of events because it exposes the students to the court system. The average person is not involved in the court system and I feel this is a great opportunity for the students to learn. It also gives them a chance to practice speaking to a crowd. This event also gives the parents an opportunity to see what their children are doing in school. Teachers, students, parents and principals can be seen in a different light here. These events bring the community closer together. This Family Leadership Night gives us all a sense of belonging,” Judge Dellick said.
Kellem focused his presentation around being a good leader and told the students there are two main points to leadership.
“First, leadership requires you to be creative. You need to think outside the box,” Kellem told the students.
To prove his point, he asked each student to list on a piece of paper 10 three-letter body parts in just a few minutes. While the students came up with the most obvious ones, Kellem told them there were a couple they were missing.
“I would accept gum, as in your mouth. Now that’s not exactly a body part, but it’s thinking outside the box,” Kellem said.
Kellem’s next point of leadership was that leadership looks different to different people.
“You need to understand when to take direction, when to react and when to lead. You have to work together with other people,” Kellem said.
He then had the children line up by height and then line up by birth date without talking and told them to be creative, think creatively and think outside the box to accomplish this feat successfully.
“You need to be creative when you have problems and challenges,” Kellem said.
Kellem then talked to the students about leaving Poland Union next year to go to middle school and going from being the big fish in fourth-grade to being the little fish in fifth-grade.
“You need to support and take care of each other. You work better when you work together and are better in numbers. You need to make sure everybody is okay, like a little family,” Kellem said.
Kellem told the students that leadership and challenges will always be a part of their lives.
“You will always have challenges in your life. School will be different for you next year. Leadership starts with you. You need to understand yourself, your ability, and what you are good at. Everyone has a talent - a gift. You should always work hard and play hard. And finally, and most importantly, there is no whining and no excuses,” Kellem said.
Kellem closed his presentation by asking the students questions about the Pittsburgh Pirates and handing out Pirates items as prizes. He also told the students he will provide each of them with a ticket to a Pittsburgh Pirates game for the upcoming season.
YSU seniors Walton and Radcliffe focused on the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. They showed the students a portion of the movie, “Our Friend Martin,” which showed King’s early life and struggles. Walton and Radcliffe then focused on talking to the students about bullying and segregation.
“Martin Luther King’s dream was equality. The main thing that stood in his way was segregation, which means the separation of people who are different from each other. He led protests to get equality. He wanted to build on equality and have his dream stand for something,” Walton said.
Radcliffe gave the students a blank piece of paper and asked them to write their dream on it. “Martin Luther King did this at about your age and we would like you to do it here tonight,” Radcliffe said.
Radcliffe then had the students fold their paper in half and hold it in the air and repeat a pledge after him.
“I promise to work really, really hard on accomplishing my dreams and making my parents proud just because it’s cool,” Radcliffe said.
Radcliffe asked Walton to collect the students’ papers to take to the dream machine to make sure they come true.
“My message here tonight is don’t hate,” Radcliffe said.