Global Student Leaders Summit Comes to an End

Today marked the final day of the Global Student Leaders Summit. The day started with four mini-keynote addresses by Dr. Rene Tristan Lydiksen, Nikhil Goyal, Mo-Yun Fong and Dr. Lauri Jarvilehto. Each speaker focused on a different aspect of the role of creativity and imagination in the innovation of education.

Rising sophomore Justin Stephen said he most enjoyed the speech by Nikhil Goyal and “everything he had to say about the role of standardized testing in the education system” as well as “the differences between American and non-American education systems.”

After the keynote addresses, students proceeded to their final Innovation Sessions of the summit, where they finalized their presentations for the Innovation Village. During the Innovation Village, students presented their projects and solutions for the future of education. Savannah Lehner, ASB Treasurer, said it was “interesting to see how people’s ideas were collaboratively executed.” Lehner’s group created an app to integrate more technology into education so that students can better engage with and grasp curricular concepts.

After the Innovation Village, students attended the closing session with keynote speaker Shiza Shahid who discussed educational equality. After the closing session, students headed attended a dance.

As the trip comes to an end, Rally Commissioner Cailly O’Toole says her favorite part of the trip was “the bonding experience with students from all over the world and from the U.S.”  O’Toole and rising sophomore Grant Harper especially bonded with high school students from Mississippi.

Students and chaperones will fly back home tomorrow!


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Global Student Leaders Summit – Day 2


Global Student Leaders Summit – Day 2 Kicks Off at the Davos Congress Center

Today kicked off Day 2 of the Global Student Leaders Summit in Davos, Switzerland with a keynote speech by Sir Ken Robinson. Robinson spoke about the future of education, with an emphasis on the role of creativity in education. Participating students were also broken up into their small groups, which consisted of students from around the world and focused on innovation and collaboration within the context of addressing global problems, such as climate change, poverty and renewable resources.

After Robinson’s speech, students then attended their assigned Innovation Sessions and Leadership Skills Workshops, followed by a Poetry Jam session, which was headlined by Clint Smith, PhD candidate at Harvard University.

After the day’s events, and once the rain stopped, the chaperones accompanied the students to a local bowling alley, where they burned off their extra energy after a 14-hour day.


Keynote Speaker – Sir Ken Robinson speaks about the development of education, creativity, and innovation.


Over 1500 students from around the world listen to Sir Ken Robinson discuss the future of education.


Students pose for a picture with the Day 2 opening act


After a long day in workshops and sessions the students head to a local bowling alley to burn off their extra energy


Students wear rain ponchos to keep dry as they walk to the park to see the evening keynote speaker


Clint Smith was the evening keynote speaker


CJ with his perfect bowling pose


Cailly tries her hand at sending a ball down the lane


Students were all laughs and smiles as they finished their bowling matches with singing and dancing


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Monarchs Arrive in Davos, Switzerland for the Global Student Leaders Summit

Today, our group said good-bye to Italy and headed to Davos, Switzerland for the Global Student Leaders Summit. We traveled four and a half hours by bus to reach our final destination in this tour. Along the way, we stopped at a “bus stop” for lunch. To our surprise, this bus stop was filled with amazing, farm fresh food. After we refueled, we were back on the road observing wondrous sights along the way. At approximately 3:00 PM, we pulled into the picturesque town of Davos and checked into our hotel. The students then went to a local park to check-in for the summit and participate in team building exercises including learning how to milk a cow, tie a knot, and playing left, right, left, right. We were then off to dinner and the Welcoming Ceremony and Orientation. Tomorrow, we begin learning about the future of education.


Lunch at a “bus stop” – Great, fresh food!



Davos, Switzerland




Team Building Exercises


Having Some Fun


Team Building Activities


Left, Right, Left, Right


CJ is Learning How to Milk a Cow


Cailly Tries Her Hand at Milking the Cow


Perfect Knots!


Time for a Little Break


More Team Building Activities


Cow Milking Station Expert!


Cami Trying to Figure it Out!


Siblings Check-in & Receive Their Summit Name Tags and Group Assignments


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Our final day in Italy consisted of travel from Florence to Milan, where students first visited a nearby Montessori school. Once there, they sat in on a presentation by one of the faculty members, which consisted of the history, method, and rationale behind the Montessori approach to education. Prior to leaving the school, students also engaged in various hands-on demonstrations in order to fully understand these concepts. “I think it was really cool to learn about different approaches to problem solving,” said Nate Neglia, rising sophomore at Mater Dei. This was the second portion of this trip that focused specifically on approaches to education, all leading up to the Global Student Leadership Summit in Davos, Switzerland, where students will discuss the future of education as well as collaborate in coming up with solutions and approaches to educating future generations of students.

The day’s evening was spent in the center of Milan where the group visited the Duomo di Milano and explored every nook and cranny of this magnificent marvel of architecture. Many students opted to first ride the elevator to the building’s roof, walk the perimeter, admire the architectural intricacies and enjoy the view of Milan from stories above. Thereafter, students also had the opportunity to enter the church and further pray for and reflect on the loss of their deceased classmate, Spencer Becker.

The spirit that defines the Mater Dei family again emerged when students gathered to view and participate in Becker’s vigil, which was held at the Mater Dei campus, via Skype.

Onward to Switzerland.

Ciao, Italia.


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Monarchs Rally and Create a Special Memory in Italy

Day 6 in Italy started with unhappy news, as our Monarchs learned of the passing of their friend and classmate, Spencer Becker.

Although in mourning, students rallied and the spirit that characterizes the Mater Dei family quickly emerged.

Director of Campus Ministry, Ms. Helen Steves, led the group in a prayer service as the group traveled to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta in Pisa to pray, reflect and honor the memory of their friend and classmate. “It was the Mater Dei family at its finest because in their shock, sorrow and grief over their friend, Spencer, our students united with their classmates in spirit despite being thousands of miles away,” said Ms. Steves.

After Pisa, students visited the Accademia to see some of Michelangelo’s most famous artwork, including his David. Students had some time to further explore Florence before proceeding to the final leg of their journey in Italy, Milan.

Thereafter, the group headed back to their hotel where Ms. Steves led the group in expressing their emotions, processing their grief, and praying for their friend in spirit, Spencer Becker.

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Monarchs Hit Florence – Day 5

Day 5: Florence

Today started with a bus ride from Rome to Florence. Once in Florence, students visited the Duomo and participated in a guided tour of this magnificent city, including the birthplace of Dante Alighieri and the famous Ponte Vecchio. Thereafter, students visited the Leonardo Leatherworks Factory and received a leather making demonstration and learned about the history and craft of this art.

Tomorrow, students will visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and return to the heart of Florence to further explore all the city has to offer.

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Monarchs Visit Vatican City

Day 4 started with an early rise to visit the world’s smallest country, Vatican City. After enduring long lines, throngs of people and hot weather, the group visited the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica as well as the Papal Grottoes. The students remarked that “the Vatican was moving” and they were “awestruck by seeing the Sistine chapel and all the magnificent artwork firsthand.”

After experiencing the grandeur of Vatican City, students had an hour’s worth of free time to eat lunch and get more gelato.

After Vatican City, students participated in a cultural exchange at Luiss Enlabs where they heard various presenters speaking about social leadership and possible career paths. Senior Class Vice-President Chloe Wallace was asked to speak and share her thoughts on the future of education and personal goals. “This cultural experience has allowed me to explore various career paths and look ahead to life after high school and college,” says Wallace.

The remainder of our final day in Rome was spent in the heart of the city. Students visited the Trevi Fountain and saw the sun set from the top of the Spanish Steps.

Onward to Florence!




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