Belhaven eighth grade students ready to rock

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Eighth grade students Maggie Borden, Shannon Murphy, Maria Hervouis, Sophia Leap, Sydney Feriozzi and Carter Kelly like the Belhaven Rocks theme for the upcoming school year. Photo by Suzanne Marino

LINWOOD - A core group of eighth grade students at BelhavenAvenueMiddle School got a high energy start to their final year in the district at the annual leadership camp Thursday, Aug. 23. Principal and Renaissance guru Frank Rudnesky along with his Renaissance team spent the morning getting the incoming eighth grade students pumped about their school and enlisting them as shareholders in the character education program that is a cornerstone of the school.


Rudnesky said what they all do together this year will not only set the table for a successful eighth grade year but for them to take what they have learned and move it forward for the next four years.

The principal asked the students to be the leaders of the school and then asked them what being a leader means.

“It means influence, it means creating a positive attitude every day,” Rudnesky said. “That is the one thing that no one can ever take from you; your positive attitude.”

Renaissance team member Amy Wrigley, a seventh grade teacher and the Renaissance Street Team leader, told the students gathered, “Remember if you want to make a difference you have to step up and get involved.”

They did group projects and they did some brainstorming. The students broke into groups and had 15 minutes to come up with words and ideas about Belhaven. Once they got rolling it was like a wave that kept building; great teachers, sports teams, music, the band, friends, Renaissance, compassion, staffulty. The students were feeling the connection.

Rudnesky also unveiled the Renaissance theme for this year: Belhaven Rocks. The students signed in for the leadership camp across the image of a giant guitar. The principal also introduced his idea for what project the students might be able to lend their support. He showed a clip of former President Clinton on and “the soccket” a soccer ball that when played with generates a renewable power source. “It is an eco-friendly portable generator,” Rudnesky said. He is not sure exactly what they will do or how they will choose to move forward with the soccket but said it is an amazing idea that is helping light up regions of the world that do not have electricity and that he thinks the school can make a difference globally.

The students were each given workbooks for the day – “50 Great Things Leaders Do, Let’s Get Fired Up!” The book was written by Rudnesky and is filled with quotes, ideas and exercises. Number 30: Don’t make excuses. “Losers make excuses, leaders find a way” is a quote from Rudnesky to foster the students’ role as leaders. 

Eighth grade students brainstorm about what Belhaven means to them at the eighth grade leadership camp held at the school.

Eighth grade student A.J. Reynolds hands his group’s ideas over to Belhaven physical education teacher Brian Coyle at the leadership camp.

Gilad Nahmani, Brian Teague and Brendan Kane sign into the Renaissance Leadership Camp at Belhaven.

Showing off the theme of Renaissance 2012, “Belhaven Rocks,” at the leadership camp for eighth grade students.

Students, teachers and even some parents take part in an exercise at the leadership camp that demonstrates the importance of teamwork.

Photos by Suzanne Marino

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