Leadership leaves its legacy


Sydney Furman

From left to right: Garrett Grant, Brandon Amor, Daly Grant and Eddy Cordero perform at Night at the Apollo, one of many Leadership Legacy Projects this year.

Emmy Burrus, Co Editor-in-Chief

Members of Cal High’s leadership program are leaving their mark on the school through new legacy projects designed to improve the community.

In creating these projects, first-year leadership teacher Ross Dautel took inspiration from Las Lomas High School, his alma mater. But more than that, he wanted to give his students the opportunity to pursue their passions and leave their legacies at Cal High.

“The idea [behind the projects] is that spearheading new ideas is hard, but failure doesn’t have to be scary,” Dautel said. “It’s how you respond to it that matters.”

One of these projects is a short film contest created by junior Connor Allen. The contest will be hosted on April 18 and is open to all grades, but there are a limited number of spots.

“It’s about promoting individuality through creativity,” Allen said.

Allen wants the contest to help relieve students of the stress of their daily lives by using film as an escape. 

Another project was centered around Black History Month and created by juniors Paige McKindra, Miriam Legesse and Chinwe Nwankwo.

This project included a spirit week, an open forum and displays of quotes about Black History Month around campus. The open forum allowed students to come and discuss certain issues. 

“We wanted to create a safe environment where everyone was free to talk about controversial things,” Legesse said.

The spirit week brought  awareness of the month by celebrating a different historical black person each day. Among those featured were Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Mohammad Ali, and Martin Luther King Jr. 

“We wanted to show people the beauty of black history,” Nwankwo said.

The project culminated on Feb. 28 with Night at the Apollo, an annual talent competition. 

In the past, the Black Student Union planned this event, but this year McKindra, Legesse, and Nwankwo were able to help coordinate it. The show was well attended and had 10-15 contestants with three winners, all of whom received prizes. 

The group has been hearing very positive feedback about these events and plan to continue their project during Black History Month next year.

Sophomores Faith Hansen and Riley Stiner’s project was a karaoke night for special needs students, hosted on Feb. 22.

“We wanted to make [students] feel like the star of the night,” Stiner said.

They did this by centering the whole night around these students and making sure this night was special for them.

“The point of our project was to make a more inclusive environment,” Hansen said.

For their project, they were able to build off of Lunch Bunch, which Hansen originally worked on last year.

Lunch Bunch is a monthly gathering where leadership students and the special needs class are able to socialize in the leadership classroom. 

Some legacy projects take students off campus, such as Caitlin Willard and Tanner Draper’s. The two seniors are hosting a leadership conference at Iron Horse and Pine Valley to get middle schoolers excited about the leadership program.

Willard is also doing another project called Grizzlies Give Back, where she and some of her fellow leadership students deliver care packages to the homeless in San Francisco.

“There’s a lot of importance in leading outside the class and helping the community,” Willard said.

She hopes to do this once a quarter. She has also reached out to local businesses asking for donations and assistance.

Seniors Emily Giverts and Tatiana Le have created their project to specifically help students. In the past, there has been a system  run by counselor Beth Beadle known as Grizzly Guides, where Cal students could volunteer to show a transfer student around campus.

Giverts and Le want to expand this system by having a leadership student provide transfers with a more in-depth tour of campus, answer all of their questions, give them a goody bag with spirit wear and other items, and invite them to a welcome lunch with the leadership class.

“We wanted to make new students feel more situated and give them a more personalized connection,” said Le.

They hope that by next year the updated version of this program will be implemented.

Sophomores Irish Vaughn, Kayla Harmon, Amanda Le, and senior Megann Swiers are organizing a project called Den Stories, which  features an Instagram account where students openly share their stories and experiences, and a bulletin board with Polaroid photos of people from the stories is featured outside  of Hannah Cheng’s class.

The girls took inspiration from Granada High, which borrowed the idea from Humans of New York’s telling of untold stories. 

“Everyone has a story, especially on a campus with 3,000 people, and they all should be heard,” said Harmon.

They hope that the project will allow students to connect and relate more to their classmates and they look forward to seeing the results.

These projects are open to all leadership students and they have until finals week to complete them. During finals week, they will give a reflection to tell what they have learned.

Underclassmen doing these projects can carry them out throughout their high school careers while seniors will be able to come back to see the legacy they have left.