Palliser Student Leadership Conference

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March 20, 2015 Palliser student leadership conference

Palliser Regional Schools held its first Student Leadership Conference March 20 in Calgary, bringing together nearly 160 students, from Grades 9 through 11.

Board Chair Colleen Deitz and Trustee Craig Whitehead were also in attendance. 

The event is made possible with financial support from KPMG, a gold sponsor, and RBC Royal Bank.

The day featured eight presentations by 16 Palliser students sharing their thoughts on leadership, confidence, and mentorship or contributing to the community locally or globally.

One of the highlights of the day was a keynote address by former professional hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, whose courageous decision to go public about sexual abuse he suffered resulted in him becoming a leading advocate for victims of sexual abuse and for prevention programs.  Kennedy urged anyone who is struggling with a problem to talk to someone. To the person who is listening, don’t think that you have to solve the problem.  Just point the person who is struggling in the right direction.  Superintendent Kevin Gietz and Chair Deitz thanked Mr. Kennedy for his presentation. Gietz urged everyone to do what they can and to take care of each other. 

Shaye Pierson, Sheila Entz and Emma Duda, students from Coalhurst High School got everyone moving with their presentation on PHAT, the healthy, active living program at the school that includes health awareness and fitness. Each school leader at the conference was challenged to hold a “Spring Active Day” at their school. In partnership with Palliser Regional Schools and the Alberta Healthy Schools Wellness group, each school that participates in the Spring Active Day will receive funding to buy equipment or promote fitness activities. More information will be shared with school principals.

County Central High School student Leah Auch reinforced that we should not take everything we have for granted. Leadership is developed through determination, a willing heart and most importantly, necessity.  Leadership is a product of people’s environment.  Leah has a brother who is autistic and by helping her brother, she has gained leadership skills she never imagined she would have.  

Leadership and how to have fun with it was the topic that Sophia Cliplef from Calgary Christian Secondary School shared.  Sophia’s upbeat attitude emphasized that leadership can be rewarding and fun at the same time.  Fun encourages people to take risks. When people have fun together, trust is built. Trust encourages relationships and is the key to strong leadership.

Ieesha Roberts of Master’s College in Calgary spoke about the need for self-confidence.  Everyone needs to learn to love themselves and get to know who they are and what they stand for. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and sometimes it is through our weakness that we learn our strengths.    

Katelyn Arik, Colten Gurr and Allison Feenstra from Noble Central School gave conference participants an opportunity to meet their definition of a leader, Sierra Roth, a former Noble Central School student. The trio shared their connection to Sierra, who joined the conference via Skype. Sierra’s life changed dramatically in June 2013 when she had a motocross accident preparing for the first Women’s West National event. She was racing against the boys in the junior class when she suddenly cartwheeled over a jump and landed on the ground, with her bike landing on top of her, leaving her paralyzed. Her injury has not stopped her from enjoying life, or getting involved with her community. Sierra is an inspiration to everyone who hears her story.

Picture Butte High School representatives Nataly Flores and Dustin Fellger are two students new to the school.  Being new can be very intimidating and overwhelming. The Picture Butte High School community has the student leadership that invites new students to join in and feel comfortable. Mentorship 1010 was the student presentation that urged older students in schools to take younger people under their wing.  Celine Reyes, John Ayon and Lindsey Nguyen from Heritage Christian Academy in Calgary encouraged students to be a mentor to someone in their school or community.  Being a mentor will make a difference in someone’s life, whether in sports, music or academics by providing focus and guidance.

The final student presentation was from Kate Andrews High School students Jess Shipton and Kayley Dueck. They shared their local and global perspective on leadership.  Leaders are not always the front line people but can work behind the scenes to make sure things get done. Whether it is a local or global situation, strong leaders make a difference in the world.

Closing out the event was a presentation by Scott Hammell, a four-time Guinness World Record holder, professional entertainer, magician and motivational speaker whose words and actions encouraged the students to find and pursue their passion. Scott shared some of the tricks of the magic trade and wowed the audience with his escape from a straitjacket.  His advice to the students was to break down their goals into smaller steps.  Everyone has a goal but sometimes they give up before they even start because there are too many steps.

One of the students said this about the conference, “This was an amazing experience for me, and I know that the students that I came with really enjoyed it as well. There was a lot of action and movement within the presentations which kept the audience engaged, as well as very well spoken presentations. I am very impressed with this presentation, especially being the first attempt at it. I will definitely recommend to my fellow students that they should attend in the following years.”