With a focus on developing young leaders and helping students reach their full potential both academically and personally, The Linsly School in Wheeling offers many leadership opportunities for students both at the middle school and high school grade levels.
Two of the school’s most unique programs, the Middle School Leadership Council and the Prefect System, offer students beginning in eighth grade and throughout high school an opportunity to develop their leadership skills through hands-on service programs, such as peer tutoring and serving as student ambassadors.
The Middle School Leadership Council (MSLC) began at Linsly in 2015 as part of an initiative led by Middle School Dean Mrs. Maggie Allison.
Allison explained that the MSLC began because she wanted to recognize the middle school students with leadership potential and utilize those students to spread important messages and carry out initiatives throughout the school.
“This group of eighth graders is selected based on academics, citizenship, and character. All members have been recommended by the Linsly Middle School faculty,” explained Allison. “The MSLC meets weekly and uses much of its meeting time to voice ideas about how to make the school a better place. Ideas are hatched in meetings, and the MSLC plans and implements school-wide projects/programs to improve the Linsly Middle School experience. “
Examples of leadership programs at Linsly initiated by the MSLC over the past four years include a school-wide “Integrity Pledge,” a “Featured Student” program, and “Project RESPECT,” which has become a favorite annual event.
According to Allison, Project RESPECT recognizes a long-time member of the Linsly staff whose work might often go unnoticed, but whose longevity and dedication to his/her job is worthy of our RESPECT. These “unsung heroes” are surprised at work one day through a creative recognition program planned by members of the MSLC. The students hold a car wash in the spring to raise money, which goes directly to the Project RESPECT recipient. Past Project RESPECT recipients have been custodians and cafeteria workers who have served Linsly for over 30 years.
“Middle School is a time of self-discovery when every experience has the potential to influence the identity of our students,” said Allison. “I want our Linsly Middle School students to have positive leadership opportunities that foster confidence and creativity, and the MSLC is one of those opportunities.”
At the high school level, Linsly uses a Prefect System as a form of student government and leadership. A select group of outstanding juniors and seniors are appointed prefects based on a system that takes into consideration grades, participation in athletics and extracurricular activities, leadership involvement and character. Prefects are active in every area of school life and are considered to be the leaders of the school, serving as role models for all students. In this capacity, prefects are actively involved in setting the “school theme” for the academic year, planning social events, and assisting new students in their adjustment to Linsly. They also act as liaisons between students and faculty.
Ms. Melissa Leone, Upper School Dean, and Mr. James Wallace, Associate Dean of Students, work closely with Linsly prefects throughout the year. Linsly has approximately 30 prefects in the high school, and each prefect serves on one or two of several committees, which are led by senior prefects. The committees allow for students to provide regular input on academic life, school spirit, service opportunities, residential life programs, and social activities. Students apply to be prefects by going through a process similar to what is involved for a typical job application process.
Headmaster Justin Zimmerman shared that he believes Linsly’s Prefect System provides important opportunities for students to practice leading. Zimmerman remarked, “At Linsly, we try to equip every student with a leadership mindset. This doesn’t mean all students will have a leadership title, but it does mean each student will develop the skills and confidence to act as a leader when called upon.” By the time students are selected to be prefects, they have typically been involved as a club leader, House leader, team captain, or an Admissions Office student ambassador, and thereby, they can interact with teachers, administrators, and their peers to constantly seek out issues and brainstorm ways to improve the overall Linsly experience.
In addition to helping to select the school theme, this year alone, Linsly prefects have led school-wide projects to help with disaster relief, organized an American Red Cross Blood Drive, implemented a student-led peer tutoring program, organized dances and social events, and worked with administrators to improve the start-of year orientation program for new students. Mr. Zimmerman said, “I love the energy and passion prefects bring to our school. They are always the first to get involved, and they always support their peers at athletic events, school plays, music programs, and so on.” Prefects help out others in need, and most importantly, their enthusiasm is contagious. “When students feel a deep connection to the school and realize their voice matters, it’s amazing how much they will give back.”
Linsly is hosting an “Experience Linsly Day” on Sunday, February 10th starting at 1:00 p.m. for any family interested in learning more about the many opportunities that the school has to offer. During this event, families can meet faculty, students, and administrators, learn about financial aid and scholarship opportunities and discuss the transportation options that Linsly offers to and from Washington, PA. Visit www.linsly.org/admissions or call the Admissions Office at 304-233-1436 for more information about visiting campus. Linsly is a coeducational, independent, boarding and day school for students in grades 5-12 located on a beautiful campus just conveniently off I-70 in Wheeling, WV.
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