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Pinellas County students learn about teamwork at a leadership summit

kids playing with legos
Nancy Guan
Fourth graders Avyla and Peyton build LEGO figurines while another classmate describes the instructions in a team-building exercise.

The Leadership Summit was held for the second year in a row at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.

Hundreds of Pinellas County students gathered at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus on Wednesday to learn about the value of teamwork.

They participated in activities including a scavenger hunt, escape room, and a Lego-building competition — all meant to foster moments of cooperation and communication.

Children were selected to attend the summit based on their interest and leadership skills, said program organizers.

kids playing a game
Nancy Guan
Pinellas County fourth and fifth grade students participate in a team-building challenge at the Leadership Summit at USF St. Petersburg. They hand each other foam tiles to get across the gym floor.

Shorecrest Elementary fourth grader Peyton Barlow, whose favorite subject in school is math, won second place in the Lego-building competition with his team.

The activity involved one team member describing how to piece together Lego figurines while others listened closely to the instructions.

"We did good because we were cooperating with each other and helping each other when we needed help," said Barlow.

Fellow Shorecrest fourth grader Avyla Spurgeon said the most difficult part of working together is not knowing one another's strengths.

"You don't know what they're good at at first, like should they build or should they tell us what to do," said Spurgeon.

LEGOs close-up
Nancy Guan
LEGO figurines at the Student Leadership Summit at USF St. Petersburg.

It took time to figure that out, the students said. During the activity, Spurgeon helped sort the pieces into colors. Then she helped Barlow build, while another classmate described what the structures looked like.

Even though the team didn't win first place, they said they learned about what makes a good leader.

When asked what qualities a leader should have, Spurgeon said, "someone who isn't all about themselves — like we all need to listen to each other and have a plan."

Barlow added, "A plan to figure out the best idea."

Pinellas School Superintendent Kevin Hendrick said events like the Leadership Summit are important because it helps kids understand each other better and socialize more.

"This is intentionally to getting kids to talk to have fun. When we came out of the pandemic, for good or bad, kids can learn online now," said Hendrick, "So if they're going to come to school, they better be doing things like this."

Students who attended the summit will help coordinate some of the same activities at their respective schools for "Say Something" Week.

The event, which takes place in March, is dedicated to preventing gun violence by bringing awareness to student mental health and bullying.

As WUSF's general assignment reporter, I cover a variety of topics across the greater Tampa Bay region.