Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Sun, July 05

WHS hosts leadership conference<br>

More than 200 of tomorrow’s leaders gathered at Winslow High School. They came from every corner of Northern Arizona to exchange ideas on how to make the future better today.

Winslow High School’s Student Council hosted about a dozen other student councils for the 2004 Northern Arizona Student Council Leadership Conference last Tuesday.

The meeting of young minds is held every year to help the students become better leaders and better people.

The Arizona Association of Student Councils operates three leadership conferences a year — northern, central and southern Arizona — to give the regions a sample of what the state conference is like. There are about 140 schools that participate statewide.

Executive Director Dan Dodge said the students should get a lot out of the meeting.

“It gives them a chance to meet and talk with other student leaders,” he said. “And they get to show their school spirit and pride and take something from the motivational speaker.”

The speaker was Heather Schultz who offered several messages to the students including: be part of the solution, your decisions matter and believe in yourself.

“I want them to think enough about themselves so they don’t get involved in pressures that have life changing consequences,” she said.

The theme of the conference was a safari, sort of a metaphor of the teenagers setting out to find themselves. The theme included animal print balloons, inflatable safari animals and a karaoke rendition of “Hakuna Matata” from the Lion King on the big screen in the new auditorium with scenes from the movie.

It was the new facilities that allowed Winslow to host the conference for the first time.

Students took advantage of the high-tech building with a video presentation about Winslow for the guests as well as a slide show at the end of the conference with pictures of the day’s events.

Throughout most of the conference, students sat with the rest of their schoolmates. During the idea session, they divided into mixed groups to brainstorm on how to approve school spirit, staff appreciation and fundraising.

Michelle Thomas, a senior and Student Council President at Holbrook High School, said the conference was an excellent opportunity to put aside the friendly rivalries and help each other by sharing ideas.

“Sharing ideas was important because you always get the same thing (with a small group),” she said. “We wrote a list of ideas and we’re going to throw some of them into Homecoming. This is a learning experience.”

The Winslow Student Council members have been planning the event since April. The 30-plus members of student council did not hesitate when school began. On the first day of classes they created committees to handle the assortment of tasks.

Freshmen took care of the food, sophomores prepared the stage, juniors served as the welcoming committee and seniors created the safari skit.

The skit was a “film” being shot about students on safari and how teamwork produces the best results. One student unfortunately was eaten by alligators and the production ended with the entire cast chasing the camera operator who, after a perfect take, realized she forgot to load the film.

Winslow Student Council President Nicole Buonviri said this is the best council she has worked with in six years of council service. She said the conference is the best example of teamwork in action.

“There was a lot of hard work,” she said. “But if you keep on working and trust others to do their part, then everything will come together.”

Council Vice President Stephanie Garnett echoed her council members’ statement and added she has more respect for her fellow leaders after experiencing the months of planning and the payoff.

Buonviri and Garnett said after the day’s success, they were already thinking about hosting a state convention though it would still be a few years away.

A key element of the conference was to put aside rivalries and work together. Another big part of it though was to show school spirit.

Many of the students donned school colors even if those colors were painted on. Tuba City brought green paint and on the bus ride to Winslow and resembled tailgaters at a Green Bay Packers game. Their “artwork” earned them the award for Best Dressed from Winslow Student Council.

The Most Spirited Award went to Mingus High School for being the loudest and most enthusiastic from the moment they stepped off the bus. Chinle High School received an award for the fewest members — just four. Red Valley High School left their hometown at 3 a.m. to make the conference earning them an award for travelling the farthest.

Not to be upstaged on their home turf, Winslow students engaged in cheer-offs during breaks with the other schools and were decked out in the maroon and gold.

“It’s amazing to see the spirit on council,” Garnett said. “And if we show it as a council then the school will pick it up too.”

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