Students representing 13 middle and high schools participated in the 4th Annual Board District 1 Student Leadership Conference, hosted by LAUSD Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte.
The event, held at Los Angeles Southwest College, included natural and academic leaders, who were selected by their leadership advisors. In addition to exposure to a community college campus, students were presented with tools to help them develop as individuals and as leaders.
The goals, according to Vernail Skaggs, staff liaison, Board District 1 and conference organizer, were to: 1) familiarize students with the art of introducing others, as well as speech and presentation development; 2) increase student awareness of career paths and college opportunities; 3) increase awareness of student of rights and responsibilities; and 4) provide an understanding of, and techniques for overcoming peer pressure.
Along with greetings by LaMotte and Southwest College President, Jack E. Daniels III, Ph.D., students were challenged by keynote speaker Sharla Berry, a 2006 graduate of Westchester High School and 2009 Loyola Marymount University honors graduate, to continue looking for opportunities to lead and to develop leadership skills; strive to make a positive contribution to their schools and communities and plan for success.
Each of the students attended the three workshops in the half-day session. Developed in consultation with LaMotte's student leaders focus group, topics included: "Student Life: Overcoming Peer Pressure," led by Skaggs and Cornell Ward, Executive Director, Unity 1; "Student Rights and Responsibilities: Knowing My Role in Creating a Positive School Environment," led by Julio Fonseca, Ed.D., LAUSD Pupil Services Coordinator, and "Elements of Public Speaking: Communication Tools For Leaders," led by LaMotte and Board District 1 staffer, Vicki Phillips.
During the closing session, Dr. Fonseca encouraged the students to return to their campuses and share the information with students who were unable to attend. He encouraged them to host student-lead workshops on effective communication; develop school events that embrace diversity and culture; host forums on student rights and responsibilities as well as on-campus college, career and resources fairs.
"The anonymous, written evaluations completed by the students provided constructive feedback that can be used to plan future conferences," said Skaggs. "The experience appeared to have been overwhelmingly positive for the students. A few even asked if more workshops could be included in next year's conference."
One student wrote: "Everything was clearly represented and if we didn't understand it, things were explained....This conference allowed me to think more in depth about simple topics. The discussions allowed everyone to give their opinions and allowed people to hear and understand other people's perspective and ways of thinking."
Another wrote: "I learned the word, "extemporaneous," and I that I can make my own decisions without the influence of my peers. I learned effective public speaking that will help me throughout my life. Student rights and responsibilities helped me get my point of view across about issues that we don't really discuss in school."