Indian Land students interview local leaders

joverman@fortmilltimes.comApril 2, 2013 

— A corner of the Indian Land Middle School library was set up as a miniature talk show stage last week.

Students welcomed business leaders, politicians and media personalities to be interviewed in a style similar to “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” but with a focus on questions about leadership.

Dubbed, “Inside the Leader’s Studio,” the program was led by the school’s Leadership Club, a group of students that meet after school to learn about becoming leaders. Earlier in the school year, they identified community leaders who they would like to meet and interview.

Each student was designated one person, and they spent several weeks researching their community leader and deciding what questions to ask that person.

Among those interviewed were U.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-Indian Land), radio personalities Ace and T.J., and Barry Faile, Lancaster County Sheriff.

Abby Chamberlain, a sixth grader, interviewed Debbie Abels, publisher of the Fort Mill Times and Rock Hill Herald.

Chamberlain said she learned the most from Abels’ interview because she talked about how being a leader can impact the community.

“Being a leader is very important because you can help more people when you are a leader,” Chamberlain said.

Landon Blacknall interviewed Charlotte Bobcats Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield. Blacknall asked Whitfield questions about how to be a great leader, what his best leadership traits are, and about his education and sports background.

“Can you learn more from failure or success?” Blacknall asked.

Whitfield said that both can be learning opportunities.

“You can’t always get too high with any success or too low with any failure. You’ll win some games and lose some. You can’t even get down about 18 losses in a row, which unfortunately we’ve suffered this year,” he said.

Leadership Club is one of many interest groups at Indian Land Middle School that gives students a chance to get involved in an extracurricular activity, said Principal David McDonald.

“I think we can never teach the kids the importance of good leadership enough. To be successful in life, you have to have those skills,” McDonald said.

The students also asked the guests about their experiences in middle school. It’s important for students to see that their role models have experienced the same pressures and uncertainties of middle school life that they are experiencing, McDonald said.

“It helps them make a connection to them,” McDonald added.

LearnTV, the school district’s student-produced television station, videotaped the first day of interviews and McDonald plans to make the video available for other classes. Next year, he hopes to live stream the interviews so the entire school can participate in the event.

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