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Noteworthy Podcasts

Leadership That Starts with a Conversation

Media featuring:
Lorraine Connell,
Peers Not Fears,
Student Leadership

July 2023

Canva - From below of cheerful multiethn

August 2020

“Connection is the source of being part of a community,” said Connell. “And when you feel part of a community, you have a place, and you don’t feel alone.”

Concord Monitor


January 2018

The student leaders spent the fall in training workshops around a variety of mental health issues. The goal was to help normalize mental health and to notice signs that someone might need help and how to reach out to them and get them the assistance they need.  

The 48 student leaders facilitated small group conversations with their fellow high school students immediately after Retired Chief Justice Broderick presentation. They also traveled to the middle school and facilitated small group conversations with the 7/8th grade students following Broderick's presentation.


The Peer Leaders training has included viewing the movie "8th Grade" and then and participating in fishbowl discussions with adult community leaders (teachers, parents, community members) around the many aspects surrounding mental health issues.


The Peer Leaders have been an established group at John Stark since 2002. Students (seniors & juniors) must apply to be a Peer Leader. This is the first project of this nature the Peer Leaders have undertaken.

Lorraine teaching leadership


October 2022


best buddies.JPG

JSRHS Senior Peer Leader Jillian LaBrecque contributed to this article
Student Council members at John Stark Regional High School recently teamed up with the school’s Best Buddies program to organize a school-wide event featuring the Unified Basketball team for the annual Pep Rally held in the days before winter break.

Their plan?

Gather a team of faculty members to play a basketball game against a team comprised of the established Unified Basketball team and officers of the school’s Best Buddies program. Unified Sports, a component of Special Olympics, joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. The Best Buddies program is dedicated to ending the social and physical isolation of those with intellectual development and disabilities. The game was played in front of a full house and with the many cheering fans on hand for the Unified/Best Buddies Team, it was no surprise that the teachers came up short in the students’ 45-7 victory. Vice President of the school’s Best Buddies Chapter, Senior Peer Leader and Varsity Boys Basketball team member Christian Barr had this to say about the game, “I thought it was the most engaged the students have been during a pep rally. It was really fun, and it seemed like all the Life Skills students were having a blast. It felt great to see everyone smiling and happy.” During the game, several students showed off their unique skills and talents. To the delight of the enthusiastic crowd, student Kyle Bowen showed off his impressive spin moves before making several baskets.

Throughout the game, students Cheyenne Tilson and Christian Barr worked as a dynamic duo in showing off some exciting moves as well as scoring several baskets. “The teamwork and inclusion piece was truly inspiring for many students and staff members to witness on the court,” said JSRHS Best Buddies Adviser Jessica Colburn. “Playing in the Unified game was one of the most enjoyable activities I have done involving sports and community, said Peer Leader facilitator Lorraine Connell. “I am not a basketball player and was considerably nervous playing in front of the whole school, but being a part of something so incredible was well worth it. I wanted to demonstrate to my students the importance of taking risks to promote positive change and in that respect, this game was very successful,” she continued.

The feeling of being part of and in support of inclusion and community building was echoed throughout both teams and the crowd in attendance. Many students expressed their desire to continue offering and participating in these types of events at JSRHS in the future.

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