By MIKE ZINN     10/25/2022

The need for positive leadership is paramount to the success of any organization. We all look for leadership in the traditional avenues, such as government, service organizations and places of business. The “Leadership in Orange County Catholic Schools” series is centered on finding leaders among our Catholic youth.

Caroline Parker is an eighth grader at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in Newport Beach. Interviews with the school’s principal and teachers revealed the depth and substance of Parker’s leadership traits. Her eighth-grade homeroom teacher Clare Mang spoke of Parker’s leadership on the volleyball court. An accomplished school and  club player, Parker is typically the “setter” on her team. In volleyball strategy the setter has many traits and functions, but the most important is being the primary communicator on the court. Being the setter requires getting the entire team on the “same page” and functioning as a seamless unit.

Communication and team building are also recognized key traits of successful leaders. Principal Dr. Julie Tipton, who acts as Parker’s Academic Decathlon Coach, spoke about her razor-focused preparation for the team’s competitions. From this focused preparation her peers have become aware of how important this trait is and have attempted to model this behavior.

Preparation and creating a positive atmosphere are always key traits of leadership. Elizabeth Coussa, who was Parker’s sixth grade teacher, remembered receiving homemade and thoughtful cards by Parker. This trait of selfless giving is paramount to one’s leadership style.

The leadership traits Parker possesses do not end here. Having quiet confidence, being an active listener and showing humility, are just a handful of Parker’s personality traits. These traits have given her the opportunity to become a positive leader in the classroom, around campus and in her community.

Parker is a member of the Angels Society, which is reserved for students who have attended Our Lady Queen of Angels consecutively from kindergarten through eighth grade. During this time, Parker has been exposed to a wide range of activities. In addition to school volleyball and Academic Decathlon involvement, Parker has participated in student council and is a cantor at school Masses. All of these activities, coupled with a love of English Language Arts, reading and writing, has made Parker, a well-rounded and enthusiastic student.

Since this is her last year at Our Lady Queen of Angels, Parker is looking to follow in her older sister’s footsteps by attending Mater Dei High School. They will have the opportunity to spend one year together, with Parker as a freshman and her sister as a senior. Parker hopes to continue her volleyball career at Mater Dei and looks forward to experiencing all the activities the school has to offer. As with all good leaders, Parker has an eye to the future and is targeting the University of California at Irvine, as a preliminary top college choice. Of course, playing volleyball will be a part of that goal.

Participating in many varied activities has allowed Parker to interface with the entire Our Lady Queen of Angels community. It is her interaction with her fellow students that best epitomizes Parker’s leadership style. When asked how students can be leaders within their school, Parkers had a quick and definitive answer. She said that being open
to different ideas and opinions is key. She uses that open minded spirit to forge lasting and lifelong personal connections.

Parker wants to be a friend to everyone. In her last year at Our Lady Queen of Angels, Parker wants to make sure she creates memorable conversations and lasting memories that will stand the test of time. Leading by making real personal connections, leading by being open with all students and leading by example, is the Caroline Parker formula for making school a more positive and long-lasting experience for all.

“Being open to knowing others is important,” she said. “Nothing should stop you from wanting to know someone else.”