The Coast News Group
The winter session for the Carlsbad Student Leadership Academy begins in January. Courtesy photo

Program aims to make leaders

CARLSBAD — In its second year, the Carlsbad Student Leadership Academy champions community and local government for high school students.

Prior to its creation two years ago, no such option existed for those students. The academy is the brainchild of former Carlsbad Councilwoman Lorraine Wood, who wanted to connect teens with local government. The city already was engaging with third-graders and adults through the Citizen Leadership Academy, but had nothing for high school-aged students, according to Courtney Pene, city of Carlsbad Housing and Neighborhood management analyst.

Applications for the winter session are now open and the deadline to apply is Dec. 15 with a maximum enrollment of 30. It is funded by the city for $100,000 per year from the General Fund and to date, more than 100 students have participated.

Prior to the the academy, the city had its Citizen Academy and City Stuff, a joint program with volunteers to teach third-graders about local government.

At the time, Wood asked why we didn’t have anything that touches teens, Pene said. “We are just super excited about it,” she added.

The city found willing partners with the Carlsbad Unified School District, YouSchool and the Carlsbad-based Servant Leadership Institute.

Together, they created a 10-week, one-time-only program for any student who resides in Carlsbad in grades nine through 12. Students include those enrolled in schools in Solana Beach, Escondido and San Marcos, among others, and even home-schooled students, Pene said.

The three aspects to the academy are YouSchool, LeadSchool and ServeSchool.

YouSchool is the first phase and highlights self-discovery and encourages students to think about what they want to do in life. LeadSchool develops practical leadership tools and creates a framework for personal development. Finally, ServeSchool is led by city staff teaching about local government and has the students present a passion project about real-life problems in the city.

“These students create these passion projects that have gained steam,” Pene said. “In a few weeks, they are going to generate winter hygiene packs for the homeless.”

Although students are only allowed to participate once in the program, a byproduct has been Bridge Carlsbad. The academy graduates continue with their community service projects such as beach cleanups and connect with elementary school students, Pene said.

As for the Servant Leadership Institute, President Robin Swift said her organization flips the structure and mindset to lead a team to perform extraordinary work.

She said goals for the CSLA include helping teens find their passions, learn servant leadership skills to help others and teach them they have a voice when it comes to city government.

“What a better place to start than the local level, especially these days,” Swift said. “There’s so much going on in the world and we’ve got to invest in our future leaders. After we did our first session, we had kids who came up to us and said, ‘We didn’t want to stop.’”

To apply for the CSLA,