The following is a report from St Joseph’s College, Lucan Transition Year Students, Arooja Hussai, Katie Feeney and Jennifer Moran on their experience from the CEIST Student Leadership Conference that was held on March 15th, 2016. The report was featured in the Irish Catholic Newspaper.
We were recently privileged to attend the CEIST Student Leadership Conference in Dublin. Our feelings when we heard about the conference were nerves and apprehension, as we didn’t know what to expect.
However, we were also excited and looked forward to the day. We were very interested when our teacher told us about the conference and felt very proud to be chosen to represent our school. Before this conference we had never thought about CEIST being the trustees of our school and didn’t realise how much they do for us.
Out of a few schools we were chosen to give a presentation on our role as leaders in our school community. We never saw ourselves as leaders so this required a lot of preparation. So, the first thing that we did was to talk to our teacher Ms Lyons about the qualities of a leader, such as empathy and determination.
We also reflected on the experiences we have had during the past five years in school. Then we put together a Powerpoint presentation which laid out all of our ideas clearly. Each of the three of us then wrote a separate piece to give during the presentation. We made flash cards and practiced reading them out to each other. We then moved on to present it to our year head and her TY class. They were very supportive and encouraging to us.
Early on the morning of the conference we arrived at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra with Ms Lyons. We were directed into a waiting area where we received wristbands. We were generously offered breakfast and a hot lunch later in the day. While we ate, another CEIST school played traditional music for us. It was Proclamation Day, therefore a short play on the 1916 Rising was put on for us in the lecture hall along with a slideshow of all of the schools run by CEIST.
We were then divided into colour-coded groups according to our writstbands and brought into another room, where we set up our presentation. Our school was the first of two schools presenting in our room. We gave our presentation on leadership roles to the other schools. This generated group discussion, which was led by the teacher, Teresa Regan. She encouraged other students to ask us questions on leadership.
The keynote speaker for the event was the youngest TD in the Dáil, Jack Chambers. Before he began his talk, everyone in the lecture hall received a copy of the Proclamation. He spoke excellently about how he was inspired and about how young people should always aspire to do great things. The three of us felt that the speech was truly inspiring.
The best part of the day was the group discussion, as it was very open. Everybody in the room was very friendly and willing to share their opinion on our presentation. They also shared their own experience of leadership in their school. This was the highlight, as we heard many new ideas on leadership that we could take back to our school.
We also looked at leadership roles through religion. We looked at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. We discussed what the story meant and what qualities Jesus valued. Many of these qualities are qualities seen in a good leader. We really enjoyed this as we had never looked at the Bible in this way.
Overall, we felt that we gained a lot from this experience as a group and also as individuals. While we were there we learned the significance of confidence, empathy, determination and encouragement in the role of a leader in society.
Everything that we learned was reinforced by the main speaker, Jack Chambers.
We got great feedback about our school helpdesk and we also got new ideas from other schools, such as a buddy system for Transition Year and first year.
We now know how to recognise CEIST in our school and the things they do for us.
All in all, it was an enjoyable day and we felt we were very lucky to have been chosen to take part in such a wonderful event.