HESPERIA — Students at Carmel Elementary School hosted their inaugural "Leadership Day" in celebration of the school’s integration of The Leader in Me program into its daily curriculum.

The program emphasizes a modified version of the late Dr. Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to develop students and staff as leaders who impact their school and community in a positive way, according to Principal Craig Gunter.

Gunter told the Daily Press The Leader in Me program hasn’t changed the curriculum of the school, but enhanced it.

“The word we use is ‘ubiquitous,’” he said, “meaning that (the program) is embedded in the curriculum … So let’s say you’re reading … ‘Where the Red Fern Grows.’ As you’re teaching that novel, you say, ‘Hey, how is this character synergizing as he’s working?’ So we literally teach everything we taught before, but we just make the seven habits embedded in everything (we teach).”

“Synergize” is the sixth habit in the school’s program, and is a modern-day term for teamwork or cooperation. Other habits in the program include “Be Proactive,” “Put First Things First” and “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” according to the program’s “7 Habits Tree.”

Sixth-graders Aliyah Duarte and Jordan Morrison served as the event’s masters of ceremonies, and introduced groups of Carmel students who sang songs and performed skits to demonstrate how the students utilize each of the seven habits.

Among the performances was fifth-grader Faith Morgan-Page’s rendition of the “7 Habits Song” — sung to the tune of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” — while an ensemble of her peers provided backup vocals.

Following the performances, parents, district officials and guests from other schools were taken on student-led tours of the school that showcased Carmel’s campus environment and “wax museum,” which consisted of students dressed up as people of historical note, such as Edgar Allan Poe and a blue-haired Albert Einstein. The day ended with a performance of “We are the World” by the school’s third-and-fourth-grade choir.

The Leader in Me is a U.S.-based program that has been integrated into more than 2,000 public, private, charter and magnet schools in 35 countries since its official launch in 2009, according to the program’s website.

Carmel was awarded a $70,000 grant through Panda Restaurant Group’s Panda Cares to train staff on how to implement The Leader in Me Program. The school’s "Leadership Day" is a result of that grant, according to Gunter.

“We’ve been a ‘School of Leadership’ all year long,” Gunter said. “This is really our culminating activity to celebrate that year. I’ve seen kids who have had few socialization skills — social and emotional skills — and (the program has) just changed their lives.”

Matthew Cabe can be reached at MCabe@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6254. Follow him on Twitter @DP_MatthewCabe.