St Andrew’s Catholic Primary Malabar held the event, attended by 350 Year 6 students from all 40 Catholic primary schools in Sydney’s east on 9 March.
It was the first time school prefects, captains, vice captains, sport captains, and environmental and liturgy leaders from the 40 schools had come together to focus on leadership.
The event follows a pilot with 10 eastern region schools at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Primary Kensington in 2017 that focused on leadership with heart.
The message was never give up and as long as you believe, you can do it.
This year, students worked in groups to identify five qualities that make effective leaders – one for each digit on a hand – and heard from guest speakers on the theme of ‘hand leadership’.
Former engineer Sam Clear spoke of his 15,600-kilometre walk around the globe to promote Christian unity and the challenges he faced.
Waverley College graduate and professional mentor James Short spoke of his experience starting a business at 17.
St Vincent de Paul projects and initiatives officer Josephine Charbel spoke about some of the ways students could help their broader communities.
St Andrew’s Principal Leonie Burfield said the day aimed to instill and attitude of leading by example.
“We wanted the students to realise that nothing is impossible – that when you set your mind to them you can achieve great things, and that by giving you are receiving,” she said.
“We wanted them to see that leadership is not just about all the kudos you get by doing things. Giving to community and to groups of people, marginalised or not, also gives back to you and pays it forward.
“It was a fantastic day.”
Students found inspiration in the day, and in the story of wheelchair triathlete and advocate John Maclean who was hit by a truck while cycling in training for a triathlon. His talk was a lesson in never losing sight of personal goals.
St Andrew’s school captains Ella Bradstreet and Evan Lawson identified leadership values important to them during the workshop – dignity, bravery, respect, responsibility and compassion.
We wanted them to see that leadership is not just about all the kudos you get by doing things.
Evan and Ella are part of student leadership team responsible for running school assemblies, leading prayer and looking after kindergarten students. They also support teachers on the playground.
“You’re kind of like a teacher’s assistant and help anyone on the playground who looks upset – maybe they had a fight with a friend or got hurt,” Ella said.
“The leaders’ day was really fun and we met new friends. I personally think listening to the speakers was the best part.
“John McLean was inspirational. He said sometimes things won’t always go as planned but you just have to live with it. Don’t give up, and follow your dreams.”
Evan said Sam Clear’s talk was his favourite.
“I think the message was never give up and as long as you believe, you can do it,” he said.
“As a leader you need responsibility and compassion so that you can care for others.”