Meet Breanna, the 10,000th student on a leadership Quest
By EMMA CORNFORD
AS Breanna Connolly rises from her seat, holds a balloon aloft and yells 'My name is Breanna', she becomes the 10,000th student to do so.
But this isn't a party game. It is the chance for Breanna to foster her leadership skills through Quest ? a program which, for the past decade, has helped shape young people on the North Coast into leaders.
As part of the day-long workshop, Breanna and her fellow Year Six students from Grafton Public School fill the school hall and take part in a range of activities. They will record their thoughts about their lives, what they want to be, bullying and learn how to assert themselves.
The first activity requires students to discover what they really think about themselves and identify the best parts in their lives.
With her knees on the floor and workbook on the chair in front of her, Breanna fills out the pages. Occasionally she pauses, brushing her hair from her face or looking into the air as if for inspiration.
Then comes the game 'busted'. Balloons are distributed and the room is suddenly filled with shouting, shrieks of laughter and loud bursts accompanied by coloured bits of rubber flying everywhere as balloons explode. They seem apprehensive at first, but Breanna and the others soon take to the game.
"That was funny," she exclaims to Tom, who is sitting next to her.
Following the first round of activities, the 100 students file back to the middle of the hall ? today known as the focus circle. To get there, students must stamp their foot, put their hand in the air, say their name and what they love. There is a flurry of answers; 'I love my mum', 'Riverdance', 'dogs', 'motocross'.
When she reaches the front of the line Breanna's hand shoots into the air, her sneakered foot hits the floor and she declares her love of softball.
Back in the focus circle, students learn about consequences. This is an integral part of Quest, which aims to give students the skills to self-manage, rather than having to be punished through discipline.
Soon they are back in their groups and given the names of stars. 'Alpha, beta, gamma, delta,' teachers say as they move around each circle. When their allocated star name is called, students must stand and find another chair without touching anyone.
Breanna is an alpha and when it's called she leaps up, scuttling across the circle to a vacant seat. Her arms are above her head to ensure she avoids contact.
At the completion of the activity, students once again move from their groups to the focus circle to discuss bullying. This time they must say what they hate ? for Breanna it's spiders.
Another quick workshop, a declaration of what they want to be ? Breanna has her heart set on being a vet ? and the group takes its first break for the day.
By the end of the day, Breanna and her classmates will have completed the course. They will walk through a tunnel formed by their peers, carrying skills they will use for the rest of their lives and knowing that they are now leaders.