ST. FRANCISVILLE — They danced, they sang, they cheered, they acted, they spoke, and for about an hour on Feb. 10 in the gym, the students of West Feliciana Middle School entertained a large audience of family, friends, teachers, administrators and fellow students.

More importantly, according to Principal Jovanka Chatman, the students were leaders as part of the first Grand Showcase.

“The program was a way for the students to demonstrate their leadership skills,” Chatman said. “We had Grandparents Day in the past, and this was a way for them to take that to another level and for them to be leaders and show the new skills they’ve learned through the Leader in Me.”

The Grand Showcase was sponsored by the Grandparents and Parents of West Feliciana Middle School and incorporated many of the principles the school has implemented through its first year of participation in the Leader in Me program.

Based on the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, the Leader in Me program is designed to equip students with the self-confidence and skills needed to thrive in life. It teaches the value of leadership, accountability, adaptability, initiative, cross-cultural skills, problem-solving, communication, creativity and teamwork based on the seven guiding principles outlined in the book and a follow-up, “The Leader in Me.”

The program was first implemented at Bains Lower and Bains Elementary schools and then funded this year at West Feliciana Middle through a grant from Entergy. Leader in Me doesn’t teach students what to think — it teaches them how to think, assistant principal Nikki Milton said.

“They were in charge of everything; it was completely organized and led by the students,” Milton said. “They mailed out invitations, they were in charge of the performances, the emceeing, the art displays and all of the school activities related to it were led by students.”

She said the school has seen fantastic results through the program.

“The focus has been on giving them more responsibility,” Milton said. “We’re turning more and more over to the students, and they’re taking it and running with it.”

The theme of the Grand Showcase was “Peace, Love and WFMS,” and the students arranged performances by the school ambassadors, West Feliciana Middle School choir, cheerleaders, the band, the drama class and sixth-grade choir, the Talented Theatre and Junior Beta club. The program was emceed by eighth-graders Addie Field and Betsy Lindsey, who played St. Valentine and Cupid, complete with costumes.

Audience members were then led to the school for original student art displays, a STEM robotics demonstration, a reception in the library and more.

“It was showcasing the best of West Feliciana Middle School and helped educate their families and the community about what goes on here,” Milton said.