Principal’s Corner: Seeing the power of student leaders

Published 10:00 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

Principal’s Corner by Johanna Thomas

Johanna Thomas


The Area Learning Center has a new group of students that are having a positive impact on the student culture and success. They are MAAP (Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs) STARS (success, teamwork, achievement, recognition, self-esteem).The MAAP STARS program has been around for more than 25 years in the state and the Albert Lea ALC chapter is now in its second year. The purpose of MAAP STARS, as outlined by the state organization, is to develop academic, employment and social skills.

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There are three statewide opportunities our students have and will participate in: the fall leadership retreat, Legislative Day and the spring events conference. The culminating spring events conference will bring together over 300 students — including ours — the opportunity to demonstrate artistic, career and life skill they have developed. They will participate in a wide variety of competitive and demonstration events including public speaking, career portfolio, employment interview, community service projects and artistic demonstrations.

On a school and community level, there have been several successful endeavors that would not take place without MAAP STARS leadership, creativity and enthusiasm. They have organized Start With Hello week (Sandy Hook promise to eliminate youth violence) and Say Something week (Sandy Hook promise to empower young people to say something and prevent tragedies). They adopted a local family for the holidays and provided an amazing Christmas for all members of the family. They have and will volunteer at elementary schools for burger bingo and fun nights and have spoken at a local service club. In addition, the group has focused on ways to welcome and encourage all students to the ALC through positive sayings on student lockers, organizing an open house-style holiday afternoon and creating an ALC yearbook. Their only guideline, given by their adviser, Mrs. Olson, is to keep education at the forefront and integrate these events into the school day with little disruption to academics. Well, they are certainly rising to the challenge and earning credit while doing it. This group of young men and women are dedicated to making a difference in their school and they are making a positive impact in their lives as well as others. This is the power of student leaders.

Johanna Thomas is the principal of Albert Lea’s Area Learning Center.