The Character Movement

Ralston High School Avenue Scholars

Learning by experience, leading by example

The last days of November brought an exciting opportunity for many of the Avenue Scholars at Ralston High School. Twenty-three students, participating in their school’s college and career preparatory program for low-income students, stepped into a role new to many of them: leadership. 

For exactly that reason, Avenue Scholars Talent Advisor, Beth Leach, asked these individuals to lead small-group discussions for fifth graders at two Youth Frontiers Kindness Retreats. Though the partnership between Avenue Scholars and Youth Frontiers is a few years old, each retreat provides the chance for students to see themselves differently.

“This opportunity was special for my students because many of them do not identify themselves as leaders,” Leach said.

The Scholars did not know what to expect from the retreat, but Leach believed that they were uniquely positioned to encourage the elementary students.

“Many of my [Scholars] have had tremendous difficulties in their lives,” Leach said. “They were able to use their experiences to positively impact the [fifth graders] during discussion time.”

Leach, however, did not anticipate how deeply the day’s message would resonate with the Scholars. “I underestimated how much the kindness lesson applied to them too,” she said.

“I truly believe they learned as much from the fifth graders as the younger students did from them.”

The retreat helped the Scholars reflect on how they can improve their relationships and act as positive leaders in their high school, Leach explained.

“It was tremendous to see them take on the challenge and learn that they can be […] positive role models in the lives of young people,“ Leach said. “The lesson they got about ‘being the change they want to see in their school, community and world’ is a great one for all young people.”

Youth Frontiers is so grateful for our ongoing partnership with Avenue Scholars. To learn more about Avenue Scholars’ good work, visit

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