For Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader Bailey Randall and her classmates, the school's inaugural "Power Day" was filled with lessons she's sure she'll call upon later in her young life.
"I learned a lot from Leon Quan. He told us a lot of stories about the roads you can take; your choices and the way they affect you," she said. "He was really funny, but we knew he was talking about making good choices in what you do."
Seventh-grader Ben Sandoval agreed, "He (Quan) talked about learning life's lessons the hard way; about some of the choices he has made."
Quan, one of several presenters during the day, is a nationally recognized motivational speaker who has electrified audiences the past 10 years with his humor and poignant insight. He has produced four inspirational CDs, hosted radio shows and produced rock concerts.
Currently, he travels the country, visiting school campuses and making guest appearances at leadership conferences.
Quan's appearances at RCMS for Power Day was at the invitation of sixth-grade teacher Jennie White.
White said she heard Quan speak at a Character Counts conference and thought he was just the type of young communicator the RCMS students would listen too.
Eighth-grader Cody York agreed, saying Quan both challenged and impressed the students with his passionate delivery.
"Everybody listened, we kind of like wanted to hear what he was saying."
Quan opened Power Day, March 9, with his presentation to the entire student body in the RCMS gym.
Later students were funneled, in groups, through seven workshops held on the campus.
Among the workshops was a presentation by Gila County Drug Task Force officers Jimmy Oestmann and Tony McDaniel. Following a short movie on the effects of drug abuse, the two answered a barrage of questions from the curious teens.
"I learned a lot of stuff about the bad effects and what drugs can do to you," York said. "It was kind of like Mr. Quan, making the right choices not to do drugs."
Oestmann and McDaniel, who both attended Payson Junior High School, said they enjoyed the day with young teens, but were disappointed they couldn't have more time with the students.
"Because of the shortened (class) periods, we really couldn't get to all the questions they asked," Oestmann said. Other workshops were hosted by Department of Public Safety officers, Payson High School peer counselors, PHS student council members, teachers from Gila Community College and by a licensed martial arts instructor.
Following the presentations and workshops, the students gathered in the gymnasium for a student versus faculty volleyball game.
According to principal Frank Larby, the event was successful and well-received by the students.
"During Power Day we had the most wonderful positive behavior from the kids," he said. "We witnessed some great character skills and were impressed with the way the kids conducted themselves the entire day."
The event was planned and organized by teachers Meghan Alderson, Tiffany Christensen and White.
"We kind of all agreed there was a need for something like this, some character building that needs to go on almost everywhere," White said. "In planning it, we set up one program for the sixth-graders and another for the seventh- and eighth-graders.
White took time out to evaluate the first-ever event.
"Everything is going well, I think they (the students) learned a lot and will be empowered by what they learned."
According to Larby, Power Day's overwhelming success will result in more future events.
"It's something we will definitely want to repeat in years to come," he said.