Pandemic provides unique experience for Belmont student leaders

The TRACKS Scholar Empowerment program at Belmont Elementary School offers students an opportunity every spring to develop their leadership skills. Even though they couldn’t meet in person this spring, the program’s 12 students were able to participate virtually.

The students met weekly via Zoom and discussed leadership topics, participated in online activities and had question and answer sessions with local leaders, including Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. (“Belmont TRACKS scholars were the highlight of my day!,” she said afterwards on Twitter.)

TRACKS students typically visit Lincoln East High School as part of the program. This year they learned about college life. Belmont and TRACKS alum Jaden Ferguson attends Northwest Missouri University (NWMU) and, along with another student from the school, talked to them about campus life and what they’re studying.

Lincoln Public Schools Youth Development Team Coordinator Pete Ferguson facilitates TRACKS, an acronym for Talent, Respect, Ambition, Commitment, Knowledge and Scholar. He said the program’s mantra is “let our leader light shine.”

“We stress every leader is unique, they have talents and skills, bring something to the table, and often thrive in unique situations or times. From the onset of this experience 13 years ago, I wanted every scholar and year to have something different so they understand they are not a carbon copy of any other year,” Ferguson said. “It was never a thought we wouldn’t do it because of COVID-19. These and all our scholars needed to know they are essential.”

This year’s TRACKS students were: Max Raffaeli, Alejandra Moreno, Phineas (Eugene) Wiemer, Payton Craine, Kenadee Broussard, Jevon Payne, Leriya’h Clay, K’Zarria Williams, Tayvion Perez, Mohamed Sabiel, Eveline Ungery and Alex Morris.

They started the program in early April and concluded May 19 with an online recognition ceremony.

“It’s been great to watch and see scholars’ confidence grow,” said Belmont fourth-grade teacher Annie McKeighan. “These scholars went above and beyond what you were asked, learning more about yourself and your ability to lead.”


Published: June 3, 2020, Updated: June 4, 2020