By Tim Leeds
Havre Leadership High School got under way yesterday with an all-day retreat for 21 Havre High School juniors.
"It was a very exciting day for me," said Havre Area Chamber of Commerce General Manager Debbie Vandeberg. "The response from the kids was phenomenal."
Vandeberg, who said she has been involved with getting the program going for about three years, said the students at the retreat seemed to really enjoy themselves and to begin learning many life skills during the activities. She said the students had a day completely full of activities, including activities to teach them team-building skills, leadership skills, community involvement and diversity.
The students will participate in four more activities this year. The activities planned for November are based on current social issues and how they relate to the Havre area community. Vandeberg said the activities planned include a trip to the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC,) where they will participate in round table discussions and skill building exercises; touring the county jail; attending a crash simulator session with the Montana Highway Patrol, and talking with County Attorney David Rice.
The activities will skip December due to the Christmas holiday, but they will have activities related to life skills in January, to government in February, and the graduation in March. For graduation the students will job shadow with local businesses in the morning, then have a luncheon and ceremony in the afternoon when they will be awarded program graduation certificates.
The program was presented to sophomores at the high school last spring, who then applied and went through an interview process to enter the program. The students participating in the program are Melissa Bailey, David Campbell, Dallas Crossley, Andrew Edwards, Trina Glock, Kevin Harada, Alysia Kato, Seth Maristuen, Jeri Matter, Jill McLain, Jayla McPherson, Jenny Miller, Heidi Nielson, Nic Obie, Trista Schubert, Kyle Sheppard, Jacob Szudera, Troy Toner, Julie Wagner, Candace Wellman and Chelsea Yates.
The program is a collaboration between the chamber, the high school and the community in general. Several Montana communities have similar programs, including an program in Great Falls which has lasted more than 10 years.
A task force from the chamber is planning the activities. Vandeberg said Craig Erickson and Moe Coryell planned yesterday's retreat, the November events are being planned by Tiffany Korb and Terry Schend, January's by Craig Tilleman and Marc Ballard, and the March shadow and graduation by herself and Brad Baldwin.
Counselor Kay Nessland is the contact at the high school, Vandeberg said, and she said that while Principal Jim Donovan is not directly involved in the planning, he has been very supportive. Donovan and Superintendent Kirk Miller were among those spent some time watching yesterday's retreat.