Sunday, December 6, 2015

#BOLT2015 High School Day 3

Our students were thinking carefully on our last day about what Walt Disney World Leaders value. The Disney YES Program helped them narrow take their own list and refine it. First, students came up with this own list:

Then, the Disney YES Program educators provided an outline of Disney's leadership priorities:
Student leaders leaving Soarin'

Using a combination of their own values and Disney strategy, students first learned about how the attraction Soarin' was engineered. They learned that is was a goal Imagineers had worked on for weeks and months without a viable solution, until one brave individual took a risk and proposed a design unlike anything created before. Then, of course, they go to ride Soarin'! Experiencing the attraction after learning how it was designed and why the Walt Disney World cast members were so determined to do it, even after failing. 

Next our leaders learned about the importance of clear communication in leadership through a business simulation. They had to design new products for company using Legos, but didn't have all the information they needed about the company. After experiencing the frustration an employee would experience when leaders are not transparent, our student leaders know they will have to communicate clear goals when they get home and take on leadership roles.


The Disney YES program concluded with a treat. Students got to meet and learn from a Disney leader in person. Justin is in charge of all holiday entertainment at Epcot. Any cast member in a holiday costume, singing holiday songs, all the music piped into the park, and all decorations throughout fall within his responsibilities. Justin shared his values for leadership:
"Leaders can't just talk to talk, they have to walk the walk."
WALK stands for:
  • Why? (Clearly explaining the reasons behind everything)
  • Available
  • Listens
  • Kindness & Knowledge
As we said goodbye to our Disney YES educator and transitioned to lunch, the BOLT facilitators asked student to think about everything they'd learned about leadership this week. In small groups or as individuals, they thought about how they would apply these new skills in their own communities. But first, LUNCH!
Some leaders got adventurous and
ate lunch in the Morocco pavilion.
Before our final ceremony, we asked student to come up with the concrete ways they will use what they learned in BOLT to be leaders for their community in the next weeks and months at home and at school. This final video is the result!

The Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence is so proud of the 2015 BOLT student leaders. We hope they come back and watch this video over and over to remind themselves of their commitments, even when obstacles make the journey difficult. We know they will go one to create success and provide important service to their communities in the coming months and throughout their lives!

Friday, December 4, 2015

#BOLT2015 High School Day 2

Example of a concept car
designed at Test Track
Our day opened in Epcot with a Disney YES program. Disney educators helped students understand that technology is all around us, not just in our phones. In fact, technology is really anything that humans create to help them accomplish tasks more efficiently, precisely, or effectively. Students learn how to develop and test concepts to determine if they will be successful. Of course, it is pest to practice these new skills and Epcot has a great way for our students to do that. After some morning showers cleared and the track dried, our students got to create their own concept cars and test them on Test Track!

Outside Test Track is a Chevrolet showroom where students were able to investigate the specs of car and truck models that are on the market today. They looked for strengths and weaknesses including fuel efficiency, price, size, and more.

Test Track

Investigating elements of technology and innovation.

But the Disney educators weren't done with our leaders yet. Next they asked them to think about how our numbers system has developed over time, from Roman numerals to today's Arabic system. Using the concept of zero, they tried out a few math problems to help them understand it's importance. Then, the found out that precision with numbers has made it possible for humans to go to the moon, and -- soon -- to Mars!  Then, of course, the student leaders got to ride Mission Space, a Mars simulator.

Mission Space
Once our Disney YES experience ended, student got their first ride on the monorail to get over to Magic Kingdom. There, they had lunch at the futuristic Starlight Cafe before heading to the fire station where they received Sorcerer training! Soon they were running all over the park looking forportals to van quick Disney Villains. The catch is that they were practicing leadership skills by working in teams of 3 and assuming specific duties based on self-identified strengths. The winning groups stood to earn a prize, so motivation was high all afternoon.

In the end they talked about, even with the best plans, unexpected twists and turns present themselves. For instance, one of the portals wasn't functioning properly. Students didn't give up and asked for help by texting me. I referred them to the Disney Cast Members tasked with Sorcerer training and the problem was solved. Our leaders also learned that their self-assigned duties might need to be adjusted depending on the situations and obstacles they faced. Leaders have to be well-organized, but also flexible.

Tomorrow we will once again start our day in Epcot with a Disney YES program about leadership. Students will have time in the afternoon to use what they've learned to plan real leadership projects for their home counties and towns, and finally we will send them off with a closing ceremony. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#BOLT2015 High School Day 1

The #BOLT2015 high school leaders started the morning ready!

Arvin of iSchool opens Day 1
We opened the day with an inspiring keynote from Arvin of the iSchool Initiative. He challenged all of our student leaders, form elementary through high school, to work together to establish laws of leadership. The results ranged from pancake metaphors to carefully considered thoughts on justice and equality.

The students stood tall and proud as Arvin introduced each group as experts to be taken seriously when it came to leadership. They presented their ideas and cheered for one another. Although they were sleepy when the morning started, they were cheering for one another and had collaborated across all grade levels by the end of the opening workshop.

High, middle, and elementary students put their genius together to create universal laws of leadership during the opening workshop with Arvin and iSchool Initiative.
Next the high school leaders were treated to a maker space activity thanks to Office Depot. Facilitators included Office Depot executives and the superintendent of Wallingford School District in Connecticut. He spoke to them about what a makerspace is and how students at his school use to to create innovative academic projects and solutions. Of course, BOLT is a hub of student innovations, so this project fit right in. Our leaders used white board tables, chart paper, markers, and buckets of building toys to create an attraction for Walt Disney World that specifically targets teenagers as an audience. They went to work brainstorming, combining ideas, drafting, and building for the next 30 minutes. It was invigorating to see them working together in order to create something original, detailed, and ready to present to judges that were actually Disney Cast Members themselves! The winning group had developed a time machine rollercoaster that brought Disney guests through Disney TV shows and movies from today's teens' childhood. It is a fantastic concept. They even built a model of the rollercoaster with the makerspace materials.

Of course, our leaders had not been in a park yet, so we BOLTed (ha ha) down to the ferry and made our Way to Hollywood Studios. First, lunch! But then we enjoyed the Star Tours, Rockin' Rollercoaster, and Hollywood Tower Hotel attractions so that students could see how Walt Disney World masterfully creates a brand for each experience. As they walked through the lines students notes the way they were drawn into a story and made to feel the adventure, fear, and excitement that each attraction was meant to convey. Even the leaders' chaperones got into the action and posed as brave heroes at the Star Tours attraction!

Kayla shares her personal branding efforts with out BOLT leaders.
We wrapped up with a brief chat with Kayla Aangstadt, CEO and founder of Cross Cultural Connect. She talked about how, while building her non-profit for schools and students all over the world, she is also working to build her own personal brand as an educator and international networker using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Tomorrow promises to be another adventure as our leaders leader about how Walt Disney World fosters continued innovation through technology at Epcot. Then we will venture over to the Magic Kingdom for an adventure in fighting evil that will teach out leaders an important lesson about the power of teamwork.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#BOLT2015 High School December Kickoff

The Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Student Leadership Institute has begun!

Follow #BOLT2015 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram this week to watch student leaders from all over the country learning and building incredible projects together in Walt Disney World. Our week kicked off with a brief meeting of the 33 high school students.

We started by asking our student leaders about the importance of the trail they leave behind when they do use technology and online tools. Often, this idea is called a digital footprint or digital tattoo.

Educators Kerry Gallagher, Stephen MacDonald, and Kayla Angstadt asked these leaders:
  • How can you leave a digital tattoo to show colleges and your future employers that you have the track record of a leader?
  • If you could design a symbol for this digital tattoo, what would it look like?
The results are inspiring and you can find out what our student leaders are thinking by watching this video!

All this week middle and elementary students will also explore Walt Disney World and learn more about unlocking their own leadership potential. Their groups are led by educators Christine Voigt and Pollyanna Buff. Remember to follow the #BOLT2015 hashtag through December 4th to watch their progress!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Evidence from the Hollywood Tower Hotel

The last hoorah for the high school student leaders was one of the most popular and terrifying attractions in Walt Disney World. For our readers who might be skeptical that we just took a group picture in line for the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but did not actually go through with the terrifying ride, a parent was kind enough to send along this evidence!

The mix of thrill and terror in the faces of our blue BOLT group definitely captures how that moment felt!

If a photo isn't enough proof for you, watch the full video of our experience. A bonding moment, for sure!


Friday, July 17, 2015

High School #BOLT2015 Day 3 in Hollywood Studios

It's true, the day started out rough. There was a schedule mix up with the Disney YES program and our student leaders ended up doing a lot of waiting by the entrance of Hollywood Studios. Their ability to be resilient and the bonds they have forged these past few days shown brightly at this challenging moment. They entertained one another with stories from home and laughed about all of the memories they have already made together.

Soon we knew we had a Disney YES educator on the way, but were still going to be waiting fora few minutes, so I asked the students if they would share what they'd learned and were planning to bring home with them from this experience.  This video is the result.

Soon we were on our way to learn about Managing Your Personal Brand with Disney YES. Our leaders were asked what they want their message to be when people get know them. Then they had to use their skills in small groups to solve difficult problems in survival simulations.

Student leaders present their solutions. Many different
skills of each student were highlighted in this activity.
The program closed with a visit to the Muppet Vision 3D. Students were able to immediately recognize Kermit's personal brand and how his branding has made him a favorite for decades.

After a quick lunch, the we BOLT teachers decided they students deserved a reward for their patience and resilience earlier in the morning. The students got to choose a favorite ride as a last hoorah in the park for our week of BOLT.

Group selfie in the hot line waiting for the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Once we had bonded even more over the thrill of the fall at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, we returned to the Yacht Club Conference Center to debrief and take part in the closing ceremonies.
Final picture on the ferry ride back the the Yacht Club.

Stephen MacDonald and I couldn't have asked for a more upbeat, thoughtful, and forward-moving group of student leaders to work with this summer. We know you all have great things ahead!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

High School #BOLT2015 Day 2 in the Magic Kingdom

Day 2 opened with inspiration from Bob Lenz with a brief talk about his important message: the Dignity Revolution. Mr. Lenz spoke from his heart to our middle and high school level leaders. He talked about some of his proudest and most shameful moments as a person. He showed them irrefutable proof that all people have value, no matter their history. Our student leaders could not help but walk right up and talk with him when his presentation was over. Some even asked him to visit their schools in Texas and many other parts of the country.

He gave every student a copy of his book to take home so that they can use his ideas and strategies to make change in their schools and communities. Mr. Lenz's message was a perfect fit for the goals of the BOLT program.

Find Bob Lenz's book by clicking here.

Next we moved to the Magic Kingdom where we were met with an untimely downpour. In BOLT we never miss a chance to build character. Our student leaders waited for a few minutes under cover on Main Street USA, but then asked us to let them loose on the park so they could get down to the business of learning about leadership -- and having fun!

Their challenge was a park-wide scavenger hunt using Klikaklu, a fantastic app that gives hints and images for participants to find. Using a combination of online research and lots of talking with Disney Cast Members, we institute facilitators had put together a series of clues that got students thinking. They had to navigate, communicate, keep track of time, and find even the smallest hidden Mickey in the park in order to complete the challenge. We were impressed with the notifications we received as  every group followed the clues and worked together the carry out this challenging adventure on a grand scale in the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Amazing Disney Fact: The smallest hidden Mickey in
the Magic Kingdom is on a pendant embedded in the
pavement between the Magic Carpet Ride and the
Agrabah Bazaar in Adventureland. Check it yourself!

Our day went a bit longer in the park than expected and once we returned to the Yacht Club Resort the adults were ready to pick up their children/students. Tomorrow we will have more adventures in Hollywood Studios, but will be sure to set aside time to reflect on the valuable lessons on leadership learned today.