A new leadership class at St. Mary's High School is turning heads of students and teachers alike this semester, and it's not just because of the bright new murals the leadership pupils have painted around the school.
It's because the students are trying to make a difference at St. Mary's and beyond.
The new class, led by instructors Terri Bohr and Ryan Berg, is attempting to help students learn about leadership traits such as responsibility and time management, and has allowed the pupils to display those traits at both the Methodist Manor and St. Mary's school.
Bohr, the student council moderator, said the class has become a forum for students to learn the basic foundations of leadership and how to make a difference in their communities.
"I think the class is something that allows them to really have ownership of the school," Bohr said. "They've discovered it's a lot of work, but they're really jumping into all of the projects that are being given to them. It's really great to see them excited about learning positive skills and using those skills in a positive way."
Bohr and Berg came up with the idea for the class last year, and started meeting with students before school. The response was so positive that the extracurricular activity became a course where students could earn credit this year, and 31 pupils in grades nine through 12 have signed up for it.
The class meets during homeroom once a week, and the teachers talk about various topics during each session, including stress management, volunteerism and organization.
One of the students' first assignments was to paint different murals around the high school, and have turned the previously white spaces above the high school lockers on first and second floors into bright pink, blue and orange blocks.
"The students really took off with this and made some great murals," Bohr said. "We were trying to push school spirit and liven up the building with these, and I think they did that."
Another enterprise the pupils have completed is a memory box project, which was directed toward helping patients in the Alzheimer's Unit at the Storm Lake Methodist Manor.
The goal of the memory boxes endeavor was to help patients in the Alzheimer's wing recollect memories from favorite activities such as baking or fishing, and several items for each of the themed boxes were collected earlier this semester and distributed throughout the manor.
Bohr said the leadership program is starting to have an impact on all of the students at St. Mary's, and thinks the school and the students will both benefit greatly in the future.
"I think the whole leadership concept is starting to rub off on those who aren't even in the class," Bohr said. "Others not in this class are noticing some of the things that the leadership students are doing, and they want to get involved and be a part of that too. We're hoping it can really have a positive snowball effect on all of the students here in the school."