Desi Payne, left, leads Davis County eighth graders through a brainstorming session.

Davis County seventh and eighth grade students have been receiving leadership training this month from Desi Payne, a leadership trainer with the John Maxwell Team.

Payne became a leadership trainer six years ago and describes John Maxwell as the number one leadership expert in the world.

“When Supt. Dan Maeder learned I was a John Maxwell Team member, he contacted me about doing leadership training for the students,” Payne said. “We started last year with high school students.”

Payne’s Davis County schedule for this year included a “Youth Max” assembly on bullying and self-esteem for seventh graders followed by an assembly for eighth graders, which kicked off their leadership training.

The eighth-grade assembly, “I Am Resilient,” was designed to help students through the tough times in life. The assembly was followed by four weekly sessions:

• “You Can Be a Leader,” which demonstrates how a leader should treat people. This session included making a “kind connection” with others in words and actions. “The students had one week to make sure they made a kind connection with someone at home, school, and in the community,” Payne said.

• “What’s Inside a Leader,” which analyzes the character of a leader;

• “The Courage of a Leader,” which teaches the importance of being fearless in doing what is right;

• “Are You a Zombie?” which analyzes the attitude of a leader.

During the final “zombie” session, students learned about the physical and emotional benefits of having a good attitude.

“Negativism changes the brain,” Payne said. “Stress constricts the blood vessels and less oxygen gets to the brain. When people are happy and laugh, the blood vessels open up.”

Key takeaways from the “Are You a Zombie?” session were:

• “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.

• “A positive attitude literally makes your brain better.

• “Whining and complaining gets you nowhere in life.

• “Attitude is the first quality that makes us successful.

• “You can drag yourselves through life acting lie a zombie. On the other hand, you can live life to its fullest and be blessed with an awesome life. It’s your choice.”

Payne advised the students to “check their attitude pulse” every day.

To allow all middle school students to establish a “kind connection,” fifth through eighth grade students are collecting canned food for the Lord’s Cupboard.

The class that contributes the most food will be treated to a sledding party.