Student Leadership Day Inspires Middle School Students

How can I choose to make a difference? How does one person’s idea end up being powerful enough to impact our world?

These were questions eight St. Francis de Sales (SFS) students had the opportunity to consider and engage with recently through a one of a kind field trip.

For the second consecutive year, under the leadership of art teacher Mr. Remington, SFS middle school students traveled to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie for Student Leadership Day on February 20. Students were selected to participate through a formal nomination process.

Student Leadership Day challenges participants to think about lessons that can be learned from the past, empowering them to stand against indifference and injustice today. Students learned about the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and worked together to devise a social media campaign for the human right they believed to be most important. They were also able to tour the museum’s exhibits, including the newest Notorious RBG showcase on the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and work together to create an action plan to address a social issue at SFS.

“After participating in last year’s Leadership Days,” Mr. Remington explains, “I felt that more students at St. Francis would benefit from its lessons. (Keynote speaker) Sam Bencheghib was an excellent model of the kind of leadership skills that we hope to foster in our students and the museum provides a strong message about the importance of our actions in the face of adversity and apathy.”

SFS students definitely enjoyed hearing from Bencheghib, a young leader who has been making a difference on the issue of single-use plastic since he was 12.

The now 22-year-old Bencheghib (pictured in second photo to right with SFS group) is co-founder of Make A Change World, a nonprofit production company dedicated to producing unique content to drive positive change. Make A Change World has a keen interest in addressing plastic pollution on the island of Bali, Sam’s home province of Indonesia, and around the world. Make a Change World mobilizes young people to take the lead in developing innovative and practical strategies to protect the environment. In July 2019, Sam began running from New York to Los Angeles, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, to raise awareness of the human and environmental impact of plastic pollution in our oceans. He completed his run on Feb. 2, 2020 covering what amounted to 117 marathons.

For more information on the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, please visit www.ilholocaustmuseum.org.

For more information on Make A Change World, visit https://makeachange.world.