Educational advancements and positive societal changes cannot flourish without the collaborative input of young people. In Seeds Training at Dayton, students were not just given a chance to voice their opinions, they were encouraged to do so.
On September 27th, roughly 70 students from Dayton High School were invited to participate in an all-day Seeds Training event at the Dayton Christian Church. It was funded by Gear Up and coordinated by Corinne Flake, a Jr. High teacher at Dayton. The purpose of the Seeds Training event was to grow the leadership skills and confidence of individual students, to create driven and effective learners.
The event was sectioned into different activities and lasted from 8:30 to 2:30. In each activity, there was a deeper component which focused on the skills and importance of each and every student in the room.
The Seeds Training leader started the day with icebreaker games. These games were designed to get the students out of their comfort zones and allow them to be truly authentic. Though these games may have seemed silly and insignificant at first, this part of the day was a very important foundation for the rest of the activities that followed. These later activities would require trust, vulnerability, and acceptance.
After initial icebreaker games, there were a few activities designed to allow students the opportunity to shine as leaders. In one activity, students gathered into groups and were given paper pieces. The goal was to build the tallest tower in the room under a time limit, giving students a platform to lead, as well as establish important team roles for each person. Isaac Guzmán is a senior who participated in the event. In a reflection, he said, “It made me realize my quality as a leader.” He referred to himself as a “closed capsule,” an introvert at heart. But the energy of the room made him feel welcome and equal to everyone else there.
Nearing the end of the event, students participated in an activity called “Take a Side”. In this silent activity, every student stood up and the room was sectioned off into three spaces. “I agree” on one side, “I disagree” on the other, and “neutral” in the middle. Then the Seeds leader started saying simple phrases like “I like the school lunch.” Those who felt that they liked their school lunch would move to the “I agree” side of the room. Those who didn’t would move to the opposite side of the room – their eyes meeting with those standing across from them.
Eventually, more hard-hitting phrases surfaced like “I trust my government” and “I feel safe in my school.” The energy in the room was powerful. Students were being honest with their peers as well as themselves. The room was established as a safe zone free of prejudice or judgment. This environment is what empowered the students to take a side, even if their opinions were different than someone else’s.
Mrs. Solem, a teacher at Dayton School District as well as a Chaperone at the event said: “It was emotional.” She stated that she firmly believed that the students were being honest, but at the same time, she was stunned by some of their responses. She had received a new and extremely valuable insight from the students. “We all have a voice that needs to be heard.” She said.
The event was purposeful for both the teachers who observed, as well as the students involved. When Isaac described the remarkable sense of acceptance that was established in the room, he said: “Everyone was unified.” This togetherness was the atmosphere of the Seeds Training event.
Dayton School District continues to collaborate with Oregon Gear Up to develop student leadership and strengthen the school’s open-ended learning culture. They are actively working to empower their students, by giving them a platform to voice their opinions. At the Seeds Training event, there was an underlying current that said: “be the force to make the change.” Dayton plans to integrate this ideology into their culture to create an environment where all students have a voice that is heard.