Mars progam aims to produce leaders
Cranberry Eagle
Written by:
May 29, 2013

ADAMS TWP — A new program is aimed at producing leaders among Mars High School students.

The Mars Summer Leadership Academy will run June 24-28 at the high school. It is open to all students in grades nine through 12.

High school guidance counselor Tina Yankello and English teacher Darcy Silbaugh will lead the program, which is modeled after a similar project at Upper St. Clair High School.

“We hope it will bring out and develop all the leadership qualities necessary to be successful in today’s world,” Yankello said.

She explained that instead of the traditional lecture style of learning, the academy will use experiential learning strategies, group projects and hands-on activities to teach learning skills, increase students’ self-confidence and enhance their ability to serve in leadership roles.

“They will leave our academy with a personalized leadership plan that will assist them in their development of leadership skills in the future,” Yankello said.

She said students will create an individual leadership plan that will include a personal mission statement and an evaluation of each student’s core values and principles.

“They will take that information and develop a personal vision statement that is a picture of what they will be like when they are living, functioning and performing at their best,” Yankello said.

Silbaugh stressed that the academy is not just for students who plan on running for class president. She said every student has important leadership qualities that, if brought out, will help them succeed with their friends, in a club, a sport, their workplace and throughout their lives.

“I was a shy kid, but I always wanted to break out of my shell and be a leader,” Silbaugh said. “This is all about the values you hold as a leader.”

Silbaugh said the academy will allow the students’ skills to be highlighted and used in group activities.

“This is a chance to bring them all together and allow them to see other people’s talents in a form outside of the classroom,” she said. “It is structured so that all of their talents will get to shine at one time or another.”

Yankello said students will gather from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, when they will have a lunch with their parents.

She said on Monday students will participate in “ice-breaker” activities that will allow them to get to know one another. On Tuesday, students will complete a ropes course that will build leadership skills.

On Wednesday, guest speakers will talk to students about leadership, and one speaker will discuss how he turned his life around after major difficulties.

Students will spend Thursday working on a personal leadership plan, which Yankello said is a self-analysis on their own abilities and how they can tie them into their own lives.

On Friday, Yankello and Silbaugh will help students with interview skills so they become more productive and self-directed.

Yankello hopes to have 20 students sign up for the academy this year, and 60 next year. She said the district’s plan is to eventually offer the academy to students in grades three through 12.

The cost is $175. If a student wants to sign up but cannot afford the fee, Yankello and Silbaugh will ask the Mars Planet Foundation for a grant.

Deadline to sign up for the academy is today. Information and an application form are on the high school’s page at the district’s website,