Leadership forum’s students take charge in unprecedented times

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Spring Lake Heights eighth-graders honed their communications skills with a local professional. PHOTO BY DANIELLE HEUER

SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS — Twelve eighth-graders capped off their last year at Spring Lake Heights School with a virtual leadership forum organized by a local parent and volunteer interested in teaching communications skills to students preparing for high school and first jobs.

The 12 students enrolled in the forum began work in fall 2019, chose “change” as their forum’s theme and spent months working together to perfect their respective presentations, which they initially planned to debut in front of a live audience this past May.

But the prospective public speakers could not have known how apt their theme of change would be. The novel coronavirus necessitated, among a great many other things, the cancellation of their TED Talk-like program. Instead of postponing their program indefinitely, the forum’s students decided to transform their in-person presentations into highly-polished videos that debuted on YouTube earlier this month.

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“This group had so many ideas for their community event that was planned for May 21 at the Manasquan High School,” Danielle Heuer, the forum’s organizer, said. “They were very disappointed that COVID-19 erased this event from the calendar. But, like I said, this was a special group of students. They were determined to make something happen.”

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