On the last day of their five-day program at the leadership school at Kieve, eighth-graders from Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast stood in two lines, shoulder to shoulder, holding the wooden rungs of Kieve’s Human Ladder. One by one, students and their teachers walked across the waist-high rungs — a feat that is only possible when the group is working together.

Longtime Kieve teacher Jason Drake said that this was one of the best Human Ladders he had seen because of the way Troy Howard students supported each other. Student Will Mossing explained, “We had really good chemistry for the Human Ladder. I have a lot of confidence in my classmates; I’m really glad. Everywhere you turned there was kindness and people were part of a group. It felt good to know that no one was being excluded.”

While at Kieve, Troy Howard students flew through the air on the high ropes course, scaled Kieve’s 40-foot rock-climbing wall, and reflected on their school, social and family experiences. Students learned how to work together with kindness and respect during their team-building, decision-making, and adventure learning activities on Damariscotta Lake.

Noah Klewin, a student at Troy Howard said, “Kieve is a really fun place where you can learn a lot. I thought it would be all climbing but we also did a lot of class activities that open your eyes to what’s going on. I’ve learned to be more careful about the words I use.” Classmate Mossing spoke about how Kieve encouraged him and his classmates to support each other. “Every time I did a climb my whole class was positive and cheering for me and that was holding me up. I was really scared, but because everyone was supporting me, I wasn’t going to give up!”

Troy Howard teachers were impressed with the way their students responded to the Kieve curriculum. “I enjoyed seeing kids take on leadership roles — especially kids who don’t normally take on leadership in the classroom,” said Troy Howard teacher Glen Widmer. Special education teacher Jessica Gal spoke about how she saw leadership roles play out in Raise the Stage, one of the final team-building activities of the week.

“It was amazing,” she began. “The kids who are normally quiet popped out and started sharing their ideas. It was just such a confidence builder for the kids who aren’t as assertive. I also saw wonderful things happen with kids really actively trying to include the students who oftentimes segregate themselves.” Teacher Toni Brown’s observation speaks to how well Kieve’s program brought Troy Howard students together. “The kids told me: ‘The best part of the week was getting to know each other.'”

Kieve’s leadership school residential program operates during the traditional school year. Half of the cost for students to attend a program typically comes from fundraising at the school, parents, and the community. Kieve-Wavus Education Inc. subsidizes the other half of program costs in excess of $750,000 annually. For schools that are unable to attend residential programs on the Nobleboro campus, The Leadership School offers, throughout New England, tailor-made programming and curriculum brought to students in their home school environment.

Other programs offered by Kieve-Wavus Education Inc. include Kieve Camp for Boys and Wavus Camp for Girls, which serve youth from Maine and around the world; Kieve-West, a co-ed wilderness program in Colorado; an alumni and family camp; a 9/11 family camp for families from New York and Washington, D.C., who were affected by the 9/11 tragedy; and programs for veterans to reconnect with their families and loved ones. In addition, Kieve-Wavus Education Inc. operates The Kennedy Learning Center on the Nobleboro campus, which serves as a private retreat and conference center for adult team-building programs.

For more information about the leadership school call 563-6212, e-mail leadershipschool@kieve.org, or visit the Web site at theleadershipschool.org.