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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Leadership class travels to Anaheim and learns leadership the ‘Disney Way’

courtesy of Kristen Cunningham
The leadership conference attendees pose in front of Aurora’s castle on the last day of the trip.

Seniors Sydney Backhus, Arshi Chawla, Ela Machirotou and Kayla Steele waited with anticipation in the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout line at Disney’s California Adventure theme park on Feb. 3. Given the opportunity to go to Disneyland with some of their closest friends in leadership, students buzzed with excitement. 

This year’s leadership class attended “Disney Leadership — the Disney Way,” a high school conference at Anaheim Disneyland Park on Feb. 3. According to leadership teacher Kristen Cunningham, the conference taught students how Disney approaches leadership and gave students the opportunity to “sharpen some of their leadership skills.”

Excited to bring back the tradition after the pandemic interrupted previous years’ trips, 35 leadership students and three chaperones attended the trip. The attendees flew to Los Angeles on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 2, and went directly to a team dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen in downtown Disney upon arrival. 

Their three-night stay in Anaheim included one full day of exploring the parks with a group scavenger hunt set up by the four administrative chaperones: principal Greg Louie, guidance counselor Monique Young, activities secretary Anna Ybarra and Cunningham. 

On the second day of their stay, the students were split into three groups, each guided by their assigned Disney educator. The conference was a 3-hour interactive workshop within the California Adventure park. Students took part in various team working exercises to learn Disney’s five steps to a high-functioning team: trust, coming to a consensus, cooperation, support and valuing diversity. 

“I had a lot more fun at the conference than I was expecting,” Steele said. “The crew members were super engaging and I was able to do hands-on leadership exercises with my friends.”

After the team-building activities in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, the crew members led a Cars Land scavenger hunt followed by an exclusive look into Disneyland Imagination Campus’s Blue Sky Studio, where groups planned their own Disney festivals. 

“I was excited to spend a few days with just the leadership class,” junior class president Emily Ta said. “It was a great team-bonding experience for us.”

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