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Lynch School of Education

Roche Center Hosts Stand Up, Speak Out Conference

Bridget O'Hara leads opening session

Chestnut Hill, MA (Jan. 2011) – On January 14th The Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College and the Archdiocese of Boston co-sponsored the fourth annual leadership conference “Stand Up, Speak Out” for sixth and seventh grade student leaders, teachers, and school leaders from the Archdiocese of Boston.

"Stand Up, Speak Out" was attended by 112 student participants from 28 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. In addition, two archdiocesan area superintendents and 40 adults representing principals, teachers, and parents participated in a professional development workshop that focused on developing a strong mission and vision statement for each of the schools. This workshop was led by Dr. Michael Corso, Chief Academic Officer of Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations and Dr. Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, Executive Director of the Roche Center for Catholic Education.

“The workshops brought together aspiring student leaders from throughout the Archdiocese of Boston representing a range of socio-economic situations,” said Dr. Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill. “The learning experience was deepened by the opportunity to work in teams with other students whom they may not have otherwise met.”

Participants took part in three workshops: team building, clarifying values, and speaking and listening. The students attended these workshops in teams of 13, which were a mix of students from the various participating schools. Twenty-five Boston College students volunteered two days of their holiday break to be trained and to lead the conference workshops.

The goal of the conference is to give middle school students an opportunity to be leaders among their peers while bringing together school leaders from Catholic schools throughout the Archdiocese. Students attending the conference were chosen by administrators at their respective schools. The day ended with students discussing action plans for their schools within their individual school groups. This activity gives the students a chance to identify issues or challenges at their own schools and to propose student led programs that address the needs.

The school leaders, and eventually the students, will stay connected through a secure online social network which will foster an ongoing conversation among the participants and assist them as they move forward with the program goals that they have set for their schools.

The Roche Center for Catholic Education and the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools Office is in the process of planning regional follow-up meetings this spring where students will have the opportunity to present their project, the challenges that they faced while implementing their desired change, and also what they learned about leadership qualities.