December 5, 2019
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA--On a Wednesday, a troop of Walnut High students walked to Suzanne Middle School prepared to ignite about 20 students with creative cheers, team building activities, and meaningful discussions.
The Leaders Inspiring the Future of Tomorrow (LIFT) Club hosts meetings twice a month after school at the neighborhood campus.
“This LIFT program is made up of one thing – love – and the love we have is to see other people grow as leaders,” said senior Matthew Mayo who first founded the club as a Suzanne 8th grader and then launched at the high school during his sophomore year.
Members kicked off the November 20 event with repeat-after-me cheers and within minutes the entire class was echoing words, stomping feet, and flapping arms to “How Funky is Your Chicken?” and “I Went Down to the River.”
They quickly segued into relay races and a blindfolded scavenger hunt for jellybeans – with one twist – the direction words left, right, and forward weren’t allowed.
So, the creative kids came up with their own cues, including using lemon for “left” and raspberry for “right”, to guide players to cups of the colorful candy.
“This is really a game of trust,” offered sophomore Chloe Young who organized the activity topped off with a life lesson.
Players really had to focus and listen to specific words in order to navigate around desks and chairs.
“And in life, you need to focus and make sure you keep yourself on the right track with the right people cheering you on in life,” Young told the group.
“I thought communication was really important in this game,” said junior Bernice Tran.
“And even though we were limited to not saying direction words, we had the ability to be creative and use different codes.”
LIFT events aim to improve communication skills, learn about unity, and grow leaders.
The high schoolers are working diligently to inspire the younger students to find their inner leader and sense of identity.
“This club is moving and unique,” said junior Rawan Hassabelrasoul.
“We want them to see their potential at school and in the world.”
“We’re hoping to build confidence so that they can be a leader in their daily lives,” said Mayo, the club’s president.
The relationships formed during the meetings also create a bridge when middle school students enter high school.
“It’s so nice for our students to get to know some high school kids so when they go across the street they’ll have a friendly face and feel connected,” said Kristina Natividad, Suzanne’s leadership advisor.
“It’s really cool when we see them in the hall and they say ‘hi,’” concurred Hassabelrasoul.
“They have a friend in us – we support and care for them and really want the best for them.”
At the end of the hour-long meeting, the ensemble gathered on the floor for a debriefing.
The teens shared leadership strategies, asked questions, and offered the middle schoolers the opportunity to give feedback on the day’s activities.
“You get to know how games relate to real life and it’s fun!” said eighth grader Zoey Tran.
“Remember that leadership is a choice,” Mayo added wrapping up the event.
“You have the option to sit on the sidelines or take a step forward and choose to make an impact where ever you go!”
LIFT Off! Walnut High LIFT members lead cheers and fun activities at Suzanne Middle School.
Students join a blind scavenger hunt for jelly beans during LIFT Club meeting on Nov. 20.
Walnut High sophomore Chloe Young gives life lesson at conclusion of jellybean scavenger hunt.
Walnut High LIFT Club members establish meaningful relationships with Suzanne students.