Student leaders attend first annual summer leadership conference

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Courtesy of Dr. Matt Steitz

During one of the session, student leaders brainstormed the critical issues students face at CHS. Later, students shared their concerns with the group of leaders.

Alex Gnibus and Chase Heck

For the first time ever, student leaders from all organizations around campus– including band, speech and debate, cheer, Spanish Club, and many others– came together for six hours to learn and discuss methods of effective leadership and ways to address various campus issues at a leadership conference on Aug. 25.
The conference included seminars from notable speakers, speeches from both Dr. Steitz and new superintendent Dr. Lovely, and a keynote speech from featured guest speaker Tyler Durman. The students also broke into small groups to discuss how to deal with issues such as violence, bullying and substance abuse within the school and community.

The guest speakers who attended the conference gave 20-minute seminars to rotating groups of the student leaders, each seminar with a different topic and message. One of the speakers, Jennifer Seitel, spoke about the consequences of poor decision-making, and how her own decision to not wear a seatbelt in the car led to an accident that changed her life forever.

Paralyzed from her waist down, Seitel sat in a chair and tearfully described to the student leaders how her poor decision affected her life.

“I do not take anything for granted,” Seitel said. “I would kill to be able to walk 30 steps. Every day is tough, but I just hope for the best tomorrow”.

For many of the students, however, the highlight of the conference was keynote speaker Tyler Durman, who gave an inspirational opening speech on the importance of thinking about the feelings and well-being of other students. Durman also gave a seminar on the inherent differences between boys and girls, and how one gender might better understand the other.

“What I bring is hope through funny storytelling,” Durnam said. “Laughing is one of those things that really connects people.”

Durman travels across the nation giving similar speeches to over 200,000 students a year. He hopes his words ultimately inspired the student leaders to promote school unity by finding out how to bring together the different groups on campus.

“It’s about a football player coming to a chess club member and asking, ‘How can we come together?’’” Durman said. “What I hope students will take from this and be thinking is, ‘I need to think outwardly, focusing on others.’”

After listening to all the speeches and seminars, the student leaders took a turn running the show, discussing and facilitating amongst themselves better ways to address and fix various campus problems. Among the issues brought up were depression, stress, texting while driving, violence and substance abuse.

At the end of the conference, Dr. Steitz wrapped up with a speech about how the student leaders of CHS need to start instigating the changes they want to see.

“It’s time to start saying something. Doing and saying nothing isn’t going to work,” Steitz said. “It’s time to really speak your mind.”