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The student news site of Beachwood High School.

The Beachcomber

The student news site of Beachwood High School.

The Beachcomber

Leadership Conference Changes Lives

Leadership Conference Changes Lives

Words.. If only I could be half as good as Joel Freimark was in selecting words during his presentation at the Leadership Conference. If I were that good with words, just maybe I would be able to sum up my experience from last weekend.

There isn’t a word I know that can explain the three days I  spent in the high school cafeteria or the woods, one word just can’t suffice. Friday, Nov. 4 was the first day of my first Leadership Conference. In retrospect, I wish it had been my third seeing as I am a junior and missed out on my first two years.

On Friday, a motivational speaker named Ted Wiese came to speak. With Ted, we talked of everything from perspective to teamwork. Most everyone was awed when he showed that if you spin your finger clockwise above your head, by the time you bring your finger down in front of your face it will appear to be going counterclockwise. I kept on doing it, hoping to prove him wrong and that I wasn’t seeing things, but no, he explained, it was simply a matter of perspective.

Later on he had us make an “egg-protector”.  You are probably thinking that eggs have nothing to do with leadership, but he couldn’t have given us a better example of teamwork in action than with this activity. In our leadership families we had to create something out of straws and tape that to protect an egg as we dropped it from a chair. We had to separate ourselves into those who would design it, build it and advertise it. Of course we each had a different idea, but using our leadership skills we found compromises, trying to grasp the best elements of each.

Ted left us with a pin. No matter who you are, you can understand the feelings brought about by this pin. The pin says “I am #2.” Simple enough, but of course when someone sees the pin, they are bound to come up with a few predictable responses: “Why are you #2?” “Well who is #1?”

When someone asks, all you have to say is “You are.” By doing this, you easily could made someone’s bad day into a great day. You could  give a fresh start to an unhappy person. Or you could  even give a smile to  the student who stayed up studying all night for a big test.

It all starts with a smile, a small gesture, but a very contagious one. Already I have implemented this with all of my family group members. Whenever I see them in the halls, I yell out their names when they least expect it. I try and smile, just to see who will smile back and pass it on. All of this I learned in maybe 2-3 hours, and I am guessing it will stay with me for the rest of my life.  Of course I  enjoyed the speaker and what he had to say, but  it didn’t stop there.

After the speaker we met with our “families” to discuss the concept of the “Beachwood Bubble.”  My teachers have always convinced me that we are just living in a bubble and that Beachwood isn’t like the real world. Well yes, we are given endless opportunities and there are the occasional parents that can call in to their child’s teacher and blame it on the teacher for a child’s laziness. However, by no means can we be stereotyped. The challenges all of us teenagers face are more than what meets the eye.

As shocking as it may seem, peer pressure isn’t the only problem we have in high school. With just 11 kids in my group, none of us are being sheltered from hard times and challenges… not one of us. If we really wanted to stereotype teenagers, it would simply be that we all have something that we deal with every day that tries to knock us down, but we are stronger than that.

We become strong once we recognize that we have people that we never knew in this school, going through similar experiences that we can talk to for help, for advice, and for friendship. It was an emotional start, happy and sad. There were many tears, but quite a few were from laughter.

Saturday was yet another day of firsts during my first Leadership Conference. I have always had a fear of heights…. something about being close to an edge and looking down farther than a story just made me queasy.

Somehow with the “Leadership spirit” in me, I climbed the 55-foot Alpine Tower at the YMCA Camp Y-Noah… blindfolded. Although technically being blindfolded worked to my advantage because I couldn’t look down, it definitely made it scary. I completely relied on the instructions of others, and the hope that my arms and legs would have enough strength to keep me hanging on. I realized I should probably build more muscle mass afterwards, as it left me sore for days. I walked across a tight rope, about as high as I could ascend, just depending on my arm span to reach the ropes that dangled above me. I felt almost childish when I came home and was telling my parents how I had conquered my fear of heights, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Senior Jared Seidel said, “It was cool getting to have fun at the ropes course, from climbing up myself to watching people do it blindfolded”

At the end of the day, a magician amazed us all, and we couldn’t stop thinking of what he could have done to trick us. On Sunday, the highlight of the day was having Joel speak to us about living a life better than “OK” and being your best, not just trying. He reminded us all that life is so short, and that the minute we aren’t happy with where we are at; we should make a change for the better.

Overall it was an inspiring weekend. I loved every hour of it and couldn’t imagine doing anything better than being surrounded by completely new people who become my friends. As seen through the letters we sent each other, it is possible to make a bond with someone you just met, kind of like friendship at first sight.

Junior Elana Gloger, a member of the planning committee said, “Leadership has changed my life, and as I’ve seen it continue changing others lives, I can only hope to be a leader again next year.”

Finally, I would like to thank my own personal leaders Jodi Fish and Elana Gloger for leading the way in our family, the Planning Committee for putting so much time and effort and being able to make 130 kids happier than before Friday came around… and Student Activities Coordinator Craig Alexander for doing the rest of the work.

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