Part of the Imaginal Leadership programming in high school is student participation in what we call the “Bold Challenge.” It is modelled after Peter Diamandis’ X Prize Foundation, in which innovation is rewarded. In grade 12, students compete in the Bold Challenge through projects where they seek to have a positive impact on their community. This community could be the city of Calgary, their church, youth group, our school, or even within their own family. As Howard Schultz noted, “If you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”
These senior projects vary based on student passions and interests and are typically presented before a panel of judges at the end of May. In Alberta’s response to the pandemic many organizations that students intended to partner with were no longer accessible. There could have even been an argument made that senior high students should be excused from completing their impact projects when school transitioned to remote learning. However, this was not the response of our senior class. Instead, even as they had to pivot in their academic courses, they adapted their projects rather than giving up.
One of these senior projects was a walk-a-thon raising money for cancer research that was going take place at Mount Royal College. When Reanna realized her event couldn’t happen the way she intended, she set up the donation platform online. Then, on the day of the event, participants joined a Zoom call and were able to participate together over technology. Social media posts also allowed participants, sponsors, and supporters to follow the event. The money raised was more than triple her fundraising goal.
Sophie-Jayne and Anna had started inviting students to a cross-graded lunch time to foster community at Master’s. Before they could build momentum, school was halted and there was no way to truly replicate the face to face community they hoped for. They pivoted to embrace the heart of Mother Teresa’s challenge for others to “help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” They kept their goal intact but changed their strategy by creating an online community and offering peer support to Master’s College students.
Our graduates show deep caring for others and the world they live in. Projects supported local organizations like Canadian Blood Services, Juno House and The Mustard Seed, while others switched to sewing masks to be given away. Another reached out locally to newcomers who need language support and one reached out across the world to connect students in Uganda as pen pals with Master’s College students. Still others were environmentally focused, challenging us to use less, use more wisely, and to re-use where we can.
The impact project is one aspect of our programming that aims to develop future ready skills and to help students begin to pursue their personal vision. As one 2020 Master’s graduate observed, none of them could have predicted that they would need to exercise these skills graduating during a global pandemic. We are very proud of our graduating class of 2020 and how they have risen to their current reality. The next time you are away from the city on a clear night I encourage to note how the darker it is around you, the brighter the stars in the sky appear. This is true of our graduates; they shine brighter because they have chosen to continue to engage with their world during this unusual time. They have let their “light shine before others, that [others] may see [their] good deeds and glorify [their] Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Congratulations to the class of 2020!