Introducing UA’s Lion Leaders: Student initiative, collaboration, and community service

February 10, 2022

Leadership can be developed in many ways. As a student, having the opportunity to lead your house team and community is one of the most significant. Urban Academy has ample opportunities for student leadership, a current example of which is the establishment and growth of our very own UA Lion Leaders. Our Lion Leaders are elected student leaders from Grades 4 to 12 who represent the interests of their peers and plan student life events on their behalf. They operate similarly to a student council, fully democratically, and with plenty of mentorship from staff leaders.

Lion Leaders as a whole are composed of representatives from each of the UA House Teams: Anvils, Hyaks, Sappers, and Anvils. With a student from each house as a Lower Middle School (Gr. 4-5) Representative, an Upper Middle School (Gr. 6-8) Representative, and two students representing Grades 10 to 12. From those, one student per house is elected ‘Captain’ by their housemates, as well as ‘Assistant Captain.’

“I think they’re proud to be part of it, which is really nice to see,” said Mrs. Hibberd, one of UA’s teachers responsible for Student Life and co-sponsor of the club along with Mr. Twaites. “They’re taking ownership of student-led ideas and offering leadership of student activities, which is really great to have a platform where students can have a voice. I think some of them were quite surprised that they were nominated so it’s really exciting to see them feel chosen as a leader, maybe for the first time.”

Being a Lion Leader provides students with the tools to develop their leadership, independence, communication, and community service abilities. With four representatives per house team, the group is composed of a total of 16 students between Grades 4-12, so it also promotes student collaboration and accountability to their peers. By meeting twice a month to discuss their plans for the community, the Leaders have the opportunity to plan events like home clothes days, organize the student-led Intramural sports activities, and contribute to the planning of larger events like the Spirit Week.

“Their ideas and their creativity” is what Mr. Twaites has enjoyed most about his collaboration with the Lion Leaders. “I like being able to go in with an idea that staff has, present that to the kids, and let them interpret that however they want. Then we let them run with it, make those decisions, and empower them to have that voice in the school.”

This past semester, the proudest achievement of the Lion Leaders has been their student fundraiser for the communities impacted by flooding in Abbotsford. By offering students a chance to wear their home clothes to school in exchange for supplies, students raised supplies and funds by taking on the initiative of planning each step, setting aside the resources, and rallying students to help their neighbours in need. The Middle School Lion leaders have also weighed in on different ways that the student body can celebrate the much-loved Read-a-Thon that Grade 1-8 students participate in. A home clothes day dressed as your favourite author, character, or your best reading attire was deemed as an appropriate celebration by our Middle Leaders.

As a new initiative at the school, the Lion Leaders have big plans for the future. It will transition organically to grow into a bit more of a structured group with traditions and roles while meeting the unique needs of Urban Academy and its students.

“It’s really exciting to see them stepping into those leadership roles. I can’t wait to see where it goes and how they work together, adapt and see who falls into what leadership positions,” said Mrs. Hibberd. “It’s a great group. They definitely are leaders and it’s fun to see them in their new roles!”

Posted on: February 10, 2022