January 18th, 2021

Juno winner inspires students

By Lethbridge Herald on November 20, 2015.

Juno award-winning musician David Usher sings alongside Grade 9 student Jayme Velthuis, holding a device that converts her heartbeat into a drum rhythm, during his presentation as part of Discover U, Palliser Regional Schools Division's annual Student Leadership Conference Friday at Exhibition Park. Herald photo by Ian Martens

J.W. Schnarr
Hundreds of Palliser Regional Schools Division students had an opportunity to sharpen their leadership skills and learn to channel their creativity at the second annual Student Leadership Conference on Friday.
The event took place at Exhibition Park, and featured a keynote address from Juno award-winning musician David Usher on embracing and channelling creativity.
Jess Shipton, a student volunteer and Grade 11 student at Coaldale Kate Andrews High School, said the conference is an important one because there is always a need for student leadership.
“We need people to step to the plate when we need it,” she said. “But we also need a lot of followers, and we need people to step up to be the leaders.
“For this event, we have younger kids as well as older kids, so it really helps us to get the younger generations excited about leadership.”
Pat Rivard, assistant superintendent at the division and lead organizer, told the students they were an undervalued resource.
“The most underused resource in education is kids,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we’re asking you to do what adults should be doing. We’re asking you to enjoy the passions that you have and be the leaders you can be.”
Usher spoke to the students about creativity, the importance of creating a structure in order to channel creative ideas, and how to increase the frequency of the process in order to consistently achieve better results.
“In its simplest form, creativity is really just the process of taking ideas, mixing them together and crating something new,” he said. “It’s very simple.”
“The hard part, is trying to figure out which ideas to use, and then how to combine them together, so you get amazing results.”
Usher said having an open imagination without the constraints of rules is something where creativity begins, and it’s something needed to create a spark.
“In the real world, we want and need predictable outcomes,” he said. “But creativity is not the real world.”
He also discussed what he referred to as the “Beavis and Butthead Treatment,” which is something that occurred when one of his songs was released in the U.S. and then subsequently mocked on the “Beavis and Butthead” show. He told the students this kind of resistance to different ideas is common.
“In any creative process, you have to anticipate resistance and fear, and then overcome it,” he said.
He also talked about how the emergence of the global village has meant creative people who might have one time been happy being the best in their town at something, or in their area, not have to compete with people from around the world.
“In a world where anyone can see, and buy, and compare anything online just lying in bed and tapping away at their phone, now we al need to be better just to compete,” he said. “But engaging your creativity is not just about building better things. It’s really about adopting an attitude and a personal culture that embraces change.
“The ability to adapt, to be nimble, and to innovate quickly. Because this revolutionary environment we’re all living and working in is moving so much faster.”
The afternoon featured sessions on a number of different topics.
“Our three different mottos are ‘explore, create, and achieve,’” Shipton said. “Each session going on is designed around those three topics, and the kids are just going to learn that you need to explore you, and to create your passions, and then achieve what you really want to do in life.”
She said, for her, the biggest goal was for students to realize they can do big things no matter where they come from.
“I hope kids get the idea that one idea can become one goal, which makes a huge difference no matter how small of a town you live in,” she said.

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