Every year, students from each school in the district are selected to participate in the annual Lead Out Loud (LOL) Conference. These students are selected by teachers and staff who have seen them demonstrate leadership qualities and actions among their peers. These students do not already participate in a leadership role. The conference started with an introduction of the day’s agenda followed by breakout sessions. These sessions allowed the students to share their thoughts and to listen as they collaborated with one another. “A couple of my quieter students gained the confidence to share out for their groups and a few others stood out among the crowd as strong leaders,” says Newell Barney Junior High teacher, Megan Perry.
Students also heard from keynote speaker Jason Schechterle, a former Phoenix police officer who shared his story of surviving a deadly car accident and striving to never give up. “My favorite part was when we got to listen to the motivational speaker talk,” says Jaidyn, a student attending Newell Barney Junior High. “I enjoyed this a lot because we got to learn more about what it means to be a great leader. He shared some great advice, and I think everybody really enjoyed listening to his incredible story.”
From the keynote speaker to the group activities, the conference gives students the opportunity to grow in confidence and to take the knowledge they gained back to their schools. “Prior to the conference, no one knew each other. By the end, everyone knew each other and became friends,” says LOL advisor and Crismon High teacher, John Bribiescas. “It will be great to implement change on campus now that they know each other, can celebrate each other’s skills, and use each other as a support system.”
Every student gained different knowledge and lessons as they attended the conference. Mason from Crismon High shared how important it is not to give up in life. “No matter what adversity you face, you have to find a reason to work harder, see the brighter side, and keep going,” says Mason.
Masen from Newell Barney Junior High learned there are many ways to be a leader. “Just because you aren’t a leader in someone else’s eyes doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader,” says Masen. “I believe a leader is someone who holds out a hand for people in need and someone who speaks for others who can’t speak for themselves.”
LOL students will continue to implement the lessons they learned in their schools throughout the year with service projects, participatory budgeting, and other activities.