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Published on July 25th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


District Five students, educators learn leadership qualities at Disney World summer program

Pictured: Students and educators from Lexington-Richland School District Five at Disney’s Magic Kingdom during this year’s BRSE BOLT summer initiative. 

IRMO – A group of students and teachers from Lexington-Richland School District Five have recently wrapped up a four-day educational program at Disney World, getting a behind-the-scenes look and insight on how leadership makes “Disney Magic” happen.

Nearly 20 students and teachers from District Five elementary, middle and high schools joined other students from around the U.S. for this year’s (BRSE) Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence BOLT (Building Leaders of Tomorrow) summer initiative at Disney World on July 14-17.

Part of Disney’s Y.E.S (Youth Education Series) Program, the annual BOLT event includes leadership-building activities with Disney staff in the resort and behind-the-scene tours at theme parks. The BOLT program is in its fourth year and has increased its number of student and teacher participants. The program is open to any rising fourth through 12th grade students in or outside of District Five.

“What better place to participate in a program on leadership than Walt Disney World, which is not only ‘The Most Magical Place On Earth,’ but also a great example of what can result from great vision and leadership as that of Walt Disney,” said John Goodale, an Irmo Elementary physical education teacher and BRSE Leadership Institute director. “It was a great way to combine fun and learning – lessons both teachers and students could apply to life and at their schools.”

Teachers like Irmo Elementary’s Pollyanna Buff said the program gave students valuable lessons on leadership, initiative and other character-building traits.

“It’s amazing to see children bond, work together and support one another in such a short amount of time,” said Buff, an Irmo Elementary School fourth grade teacher and coordinator of the BOLT program. “These young leaders had an awesome week learning how to overcome obstacles and failures. They have been charged with the mission to go make a difference in their communities. So, look out world. Here they come.”

This year’s session included trips to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot for lessons on history and animal adaptation. Rising sixth grader Jessica King, who first attended BOLT two years ago, said the program was a good mix of fun and learning social and leadership skills.

“It was really awesome because I got to meet new people, and I got to figure out what other people are like,” she said. “I learned how to be a great leader and I learned how to work with a team and how to listen to other people’s ideas before I decide whoever’s was the best…it will help me with job interviews, and it will help me with my career in the future.”

The program is available through the Blue Ribbons Schools of Excellence to any student in grades three through 12 with registration available through the BRSE website. More than 90 students nationwide participate in the event annually. The Blue Ribbons Schools of Excellence will hold its 2015 Blueprint For Excellence National Conference December 1-4. More information on BOLT and the conference is available online at


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