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MONTREAL, MAY 21, 2013 –  Once again this year, students from across the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) secondary school network took part in a three-day leadership camp held in beautiful Waterville, Quebec at Camp Val d’Estrie.

The EMSB Pedagogical Services Department has been sponsoring leadership camps for 15 years, notably at Camp Kinkora.  Last year, the switch was made to Camp Val d’Estrie, or Camp Val as students call it.

Every year, under the leadership and guidance of C-J Turner, a child care worker at Westmount High School and coordinator of the EMSB Student Leadership Program, students from Secondary Cycle 2 put their names forward to represent their schools and to become camp animators.  Together, on a weekly basis from January to April, students met to plan and organize the activities of the “Leadership Camp.” The theme for 2013 was “Time Blast,” a “clin d’oeil” to the last 15 years and how far students have come together as young leaders.

The keynote speaker was Orlando Bowen, who shared with the students and adults his moving story.  A former Toronto Argonauts linebacker, Bowen was beaten by two Peel police officers in a Mississauga restaurant parking lot some eight years ago, which left him with a concussion, a nasty gash on his forehead and blackened eyes.  The harrowing ordeal might have scarred Bowen, but it did not break his spirit or deter him from pursuing his passion of working with young people. Now the executive director of One Voice, One Team, he empowers young people to utilize their leadership gifts and talents through sport and fun activities.

Why is the EMSB Leadership Camp so important to our students?   

“This year I was an organizer,” said   Penelope Kotsovos from LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent. “It was my first year. At the beginning, I was scared.. But now that I look back, being an organizer is the full package. You basically lead the group. It has taught me that I am. a leader. I am able to lead.”

Added Alexander Cruz, from Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard: “I take comfort in one thing though- that this year, as an organizer, I was able to make other delegates feel the same way I did when I first got to Camp. I was able to create and take part of something that possibly changed peoples' lives and that's the best feeling a person can ever have. That's what Camp means to me- it's something that can utterly change the course of someone's life and be the most wonderful thing they've ever lived.”

Laura Fiorilli from Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North commented that while working with 25 other organizers who belong to different schools, this amazing experience has taught here many important lessons on how to be a leader. “Every Wednesday, we learn how to come to a consensus in order to reach our goal of creating a memory filled camp,” she said.

EMSB Assistant Director of Pedagogical Services Christine Denommée said that she felt so privileged to be part of the adventure.  “Along with the many school administrators who joined me at camp, I have once again witnessed the magic of this experience and the bonding that takes place amongst our students from our different secondary schools and their accompanying adults,” she said.  “I wish to thank the organizers for their hard work and the animators and delegates for their overwhelming spirit.  These are true leaders!”


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213