High school students learn the power of leadership

Dr. Stephen Birchak and studentsMore than 180 Schuylerville High School students put their leadership skills to the test on Tuesday, Nov. 18, by participating in the first Schuylerville Student Leadership Training. The mini-conference offered students the opportunity to learn about the power of student leadership and how it shapes the school culture.

“The students invited to this conference were invited because someone at our school saw potential in them,” High School Principal Matthew Sickles said. “We were amazed by how many students accepted our invitation and by how engaged our students were for the entire three-hour training.”

The training program began with a keynote address by
Dr. Stephen “Bird” Birchak from the College of Saint Rose.
Dr. Birchak focused on how student choices can build a positive school climate. He explained what he believes to be the three keys to character: the courage to change, commitment and optimism.

“There is one thing that no person can ever take away from you – your choice,” Birchak told students. “No one can ever take away your ability to choose what you want to do in a given set of circumstances. No one can ever take away your potential to make the world a better place.”

“I didn’t know what to expect when I was invited to attend the training,” junior Ashley Edgar said. “I found it interesting. It was easy to relate to Dr. Bird and I’ll never forget the story he told about his son who passed away.”

After the keynote address, each student participated in two of eight different breakout sessions led by Schuylerville teachers and industry experts. The sessions included:

  • Creating a Positive Environment;
  • Leadership, College and Careers After High School;
  • Leadership in the Classroom;
  • Leadership in Athletics;
  • Leadership Through Student Council and Elected Positions;
  • Leadership Through Productive Decisions;
  • Leadership Through Service; and
  • Leadership for Career Development.

Students working together at leadership workshopDuring the workshops, students shared ideas and learned new skills, including how to build a resume and prepare for a job interview. The students seemed interested and willing to step out of their comfort zones.

“I thought it was a great experience to teach us new things about leadership,” sophomore Kaleigh Gale said. “I learned how important it is to become more active in high school and college activities and clubs.”

“It was a lot more fun than I expected,” junior Liz Watson said. “We did a lot of activities related to leadership that were fun and will be useful in the future.”

Schuylerville administrators are collecting feedback from the students who attended and they say they hope to make the leadership training an annual event.

“We believe our first leadership training was a success,” Sickles said. “Our hope is that our students left the conference with one or two ideas that they can put into action that will have a positive impact on our school and on the Schuylerville community.”