At Enrico Fermi High School, students are learning invaluable skills in an elective course called “Teen Leadership.”
“I didn't really know what it was and I just took it because I needed the credits and I really wasn't expecting anything this good to come out of it,” Nick Damato, a 16 year-old junior, said.
Boy was Damato surprised. He's brushed up on his social and listening skills and, like the rest of the class now knows how to sell himself in an interview.
As for looking the part?
“None of you men are ever going to wear a clip-on. That is not professional,” teacher Mark Dube said .
So everyone learns how to tie a tie properly. Practice makes perfect, Dube says, and perception is key.
“Learning that people view you through their own set of eyes is scary, but it's real. People judge you so you've got to be on, it is game time. That’s what we try and teach the kids,” he added.
Public speaking is often highlighted in class.
“I was nervous in the beginning of the year doing speeches but I’ve gotten the confidence to do more things,” Logan Mooney, 15, said.
To boost students' self esteem, each is given a bag of affirmation where they write encouraging notes to one another.
“It says, 'Danielle, I think your speeches are really good and I love how your speeches are always really personal,'” read freshman Danielle Flaherty.
“When you read them it just makes you feel good and feel better about your day and you can go back to them and read them if you're feeling down,” Jessica Dellaquila, 14, said.
The class is made up of freshmen to seniors and the students are building closer bonds.
“You get to make friendships that you would never make before. I would never have the incentive to walk up to a freshman and just be friends with them,” Ashley Littlejohn, a 17-year-old senior, said.
Through the teen leadership class, they are building connections and more importantly banking on their professional future.
“It changed my whole perspective. It was really helpful,” Damato said.
The course only lasts for half a year. Teachers say it fills up very quickly.