The Value of the Leadership Program at Ripon High School...
"Leadership does more than just prepare you for your college education; it prepares you for real life experiences, and teaches you social and professional skills you'll continuously use throughout your career and life. A single dance or event requires sourcing revenue, budgeting, planning, collaboration, delegation, communication, management, and creative thinking; all skills I commonly utilize in my professional and personal life today. But most of all Leadership is a lot fun; I have so many great memories to look back on, and so many cherished friendships all in thanks to ASB Leadership." -Ruben Gaytan Financial Analyst Former ASB Treasurer
"Being in leadership with Mrs. Mortensen all 4 years of high school had a heavily positive influence on the person I have become today. Throughout those 4 years, the students that came and stayed with the leadership program became more like a small family. It even looks weird to type “Mrs. Mortensen” since we all became so accustomed to calling her “Morty” or “Mama Morty”. I think many people feel that educators need to restrict themselves from being too emotionally attached or involved in the lives of other students. To a professional extent, this is true. But some teachers are not emotionally involved enough. I firmly feel and believe to the pit of my soul that Morty has saved lives. The programs that she has implemented during her time as an educator have impacted the quality of life for each student that has had the privilege to interact with her. From providing us the opportunity to grow and develop at Core Camp each summer to interacting with new students during Link Crew or even when she made us discuss and demonstrate real-world professionalism, she fostered an environment where any student could thrive.
I was able to become the leader I am today because of the skills and experiences Morty provided us. I was fortunate enough to hold the titles of “Freshmen Rep”, “Sophomore Class Treasurer”, “ASB Treasurer”, and “Senior Class President”. This is the only program that is going to give students the chance to express their individuality in student government and demonstrate critical communication. I learned how to interact with students who were extreme extroverts and those who were extreme introverts and how to be the best and most competent communicator I could be. I learned public speaking. I learned about event planning. I learned about interpersonal communication. I learned how to be self-driven and motivated. I learned how to present myself in a professional manner during an interview setting. And I even had the opportunity to give the graduating speech at my high school graduation in 2012 (a dream of mine). I also learned to be kind to everyone because everyone has something they are going through. High school is a very emotional time for students. They are going through body changes, life changes, and have a lot more on their minds and things happening in their lives than most teachers can realize. Morty was a motherly figure that many students felt comfortable turning to with their problems. Morty, being a teacher and mother herself, has a full load to deal with. Yet, she still took the time to make each student feel valued and appreciated and heard. That’s all a person can ask.
We went through a lot during those 4 years. We had great times and we had hard times. We lost students and we were there for each other. I met my best friends in leadership and we are still friends to this day. Leadership surrounded us with other like-minded students who wanted to gain education, grow their potential, lead others, support others, and leave a legacy behind. Not all high school students have matured to that disposition by the time they graduate. But the leadership program at Ripon High rewarded the students who were ready and self-motivated. Morty allowed us to have autonomy in the classroom but also gave us a push when needed. We grew up together for 4 years and lived in a tight-knit community of student leaders. Students came from all different backgrounds, family lives, financial status, and emotional status. Learning that other students had similar problems to mine made me feel less alone. I’m so grateful that this program was in place. If I didn’t have the support and connection of this program, I’m not sure I’d be here.
I, now being 3 months shy of college graduation, can reflect upon how I became the person I am today. How is it that I was able to sell myself enough to get into my dream school? Or acquire academic scholarships along the way? Or land an internship that led to a job offer? I sincerely owe a great deal of my success as an individual to the leadership program developed by Morty. For those of you who are reading this and are not in the job market or haven’t been for quite some time, allow me to express the importance of leadership in today’s job applications. Being that it is 2016 and I am on my way to adulthood post grad, I can shed some light on what employers right now are looking for. Qualifications were different 10, 20, 30 years ago, but today in 2016, employers are looking for confident, competent, and effective communicators. 3 things that almost any company will have listed under their qualification sections are “communication skills”, “experience working in teams”, “leadership abilities”. Did they just describe Ripon High School’s leadership program? I think so! But I digress, the things taught in leadership have paved the way for students to gain the skills needed to land those internships, scholarships, and job offers later in their lives. Colleges and future jobs do not want solely academic applicants. They want well-rounded people who have leadership experience and passions to initiate ideas and spark inspiration.
I am 21 years old attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo pursing a degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Spanish. I have held leadership titles in various clubs on campus, multiple part-time jobs, received scholarships and awards, had an internship with human resources at Target which led to a full-time salaried job upon graduating in June. If I were never involved in leadership in high school, it would have been very challenging for me to be as successful as I am today. It’s funny- I almost didn’t turn in my leadership application in 8th grade. I didn’t think I would be a good fit. Boy was I wrong. I’m glad something inside of me clicked and I turned it in on the very last day. Here I stand, 4 years later-an almost-college graduate that has a full-time job lined up. For anyone that cannot or does not see the value of this program or the leadership that Morty bestows upon the students, I urge you to reach out to other Ripon High leadership alumni and inquire about their experiences for most, if not all, will have positive adjectives to describe the program. Look at all the past students that have been in this program and look where they are today-successful, independent, leaders. Honestly, I could go on and on and I wish I could speak about this in person to really give an impact, but there is just not enough typed words to truly express how valuable Morty and the leadership program have been to my life. Her feedback, love, support and encouragement have guided us in our lives to be the best people we can be. She is not just an educator-she is a mentor. Someone we can turn to, look up to, and seek for advice. The program is not just a bunch of high-spirit kids who like to put on rallies and wear face paint at football games-when you dig deeper and learn what really goes on in the classroom throughout the course of a year or more, leaders are born. They emerge and are ready to move on to the next stage of their lives. High school was not the best 4 years of my life, it normally isn’t for most people, but being a part of leadership made those 4 years not just bearable, but enjoyable. On behalf all past, present and future leadership students of Ripon High, I speak for us in that our lives have been enriched because of leadership.
Love you to the moon, Morty!"
"The leadership program at Ripon High School is a valuable program that builds and promotes strong leaders for our future. I am a parent of a Senior (4 years of leadership) and a Sophomore (currently elected for his third year of leadership) and I have seen first hand how the students involved in leadership develop real-world skills and competence that help them get into college and get hired for jobs. I have attended several events where students from leadership have been involved and they are easy to “pick out” because they are the ones getting involved, organizing and taking a leadership role in the group. The Leadership class has allowed my two children to learn how to set-up and run events, how to write a resume, how to interview for a job, how to set goals and follow them through to the end, how to effectively write and deliver speeches, how to be a leader and a team player at the same time, and how to give back to the community. The leadership class is also responsible for many of the events, rallies, activities, dances, etc. at Ripon High. If you talk to the student body, these are the things that make high school memorable and if it wasn’t for leadership, many of these events would not occur."
Heidi Hawes Teacher & Parent
"Leadership taught me so many tools that I have carried with me on my journey through life. These tools gained helped me through college, as they shaped who I was. Leadership teaches you time management, strong worth ethic, good communication, problem solving skills, and self confidence, among many other skills. In leadership, you take on tasks in groups, such as planning prom (which I did) and that lets you put all these skills together to put on amazing events like prom. For an event like this, in the group you plan everything. It helps strengthen all the skills mentioned above. These skills traveled with me to college, where I was able to put them all together to get me through the stressful college semesters. Leadership helps take you out of your comfort zone and that helps in college and the rest of your life so much, at least for myself it did. Not only in college courses, but my college job required these skills and everyday I use them. Memories from my Leadership years will last forever, Leadership has shaped my life for the best" . Dustin Everett Bachelors of Marine Science at CSU Monterey Bay to be completed Fall 2016. Currently working at “The Cheese Shop” in Carmel by the Sea.
"I now have two children that are enrolled in our high school’s leadership class. One is in a senior and has been in leadership all four years, and the other is a freshman with plans to continue on in the class through her senior year. At our high school, the students earn an A-G credit when they take leadership, which is a bonus but was never a requirement in my eyes. When my son told me that he wanted to fill out an application for Freshman Representative, I was nervous. Branden was never elected to a position in his grade school and wasn’t an outspoken, type A leader. He completed his application, requested reference letters from teachers and community leaders and went into his interview feeling confident. The application/interview process alone was an amazing experience! Branden was accepted and was over the moon. He has held the position of Technology Commissioner for the past three years, which is a perfect fit for him. I would say that his “leadership qualities” are more silent, one that provides support behind the scenes and prefers not to be recognized. A rally or without any tech glitches is chalked up as a successful event and no one knows of his involvement. But those “unsuccessful” events is where he will say that he has learned the most when asked how he had to deal with adversity and how it helped him grow as a leader. My Freshman is not an introvert, like her brother. She is more outspoken, has been the team captain and was voted in as the Student Council President at her elementary school. We have been at the local pizza place and the young students from her school gaze and tell their parents, “That’s Malery!”, and grin when she waves and says hello. She is a Freshman Representative this year with a group that is ALL very much type A personalities. I chaperoned their float building activities and was very impressed how they were able to share their different ideas, then develop a float that integrated many of them. Both of them have learned invaluable skills and developed critical thinking processes in their time in Leadership. There is a focus on time management, public speaking and career development. The teacher/advisor is always available to them for guidance and direction, but there is a huge emphasis on the students taking charge, learning from mishaps and modifying their plans for successful events (rallies, dances, fundraisers, etc.). One of my favorite assignments/events, that is an annual requirement of the Leadership students, is the Mock Interviews. Students choose and research a career, prepare a cover letter and resume, then participate in an interview with a professional matching their chosen path. They are expected to dress the part, show up at a scheduled appointment, and are interviewed as if they were applying for a job. The students are nervous but the chatter after their individual interviews is always positive! The Leadership class is always evolving, as it should to meet the needs of each year’s student population and culture. I am blessed that my children wanted to make it a part of their high school careers and would encourage anyone to do the same."