Above: Damien Morrison's leadership is taking him places.

Pauline Johnson Student Learning, Leading and Inspiring 


ast month, the leadership initiative of Damien Morrison, a Grade 10 student at Pauline Johnson Collegiate and Vocational School, took him to the Western Ontario Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY) conference, where he was one of 100 student leaders from secondary schools across the region there to develop skills, network and hear from other inspiring leaders. Next, it will take him to an international conference to do the same thing on a larger scale. 

"Damien is a wonderful example of the success motivated students find within the PJ Leadership program,” said Neal Stamer, who taught Morrison last semester as part of the program.

Morrison has the opportunity to head to Chicago next to take part in the World Leadership Congress as an ambassador for the Western Ontario HOBY chapter, which he received a $2,000 grant to attend. The youth leadership organization selects just one student for the grant, recognizing someone who exemplifies leadership by bringing out the best in others, while also taking opportunities to improve the best version of themself.

"Being able to grow my leadership skills will help me for the rest of my life, and now being invited to the HOBY World Conference will allow me to connect with peers from around the globe to learn and grow together," said Morrison. "We are taught to open our hearts to all, and that is something I will always carry."

Getting to this level has started with his own school community, and the ability to take on challenges, recognize opportunities and work with students and staff to make a significant impact. 

"Damien has demonstrated great ability this year through Pauline Johnson's numerous Grade 8 leadership activities, our Terry Fox Day and the annual Play 4 McMaster Kids fundraiser organized with all Brantford high schools. He also helped host the Horizons Leadership Conference and the Specialized Services formal dance for area high schools, and organized activities to prioritize student mental health," said Meredith Clarke, teacher librarian, who is teaching the Leadership class this semester along with educator Melanie Kraemer. "Aligning with the goals of the PJ Leadership program, he's built on this success by seeking further leadership opportunities, such as the HOBY conference, and exceeding all expectations."

Morrison described taking part in the HOBY conference this year as "life-changing," and looks forward to participating next year as a group leader. He plans to attend the World Leadership Congress either this summer or next.  


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