Leadership Conference to Focus on Team Building and Empowerment


Kaveh Varghai makes the “leap of faith” at the 2010 leadership conference. Photo from Beachcomber archives by Elana Gloger.

The leadership conference will be held this weekend at BHS.

The three-day conference gives students the opportunity to participate in team building and leadership activities. Currently, there are about ninety-five students signed up to attend the conference.
Advisor Craig Alexander noted that the conference has been a BHS tradition for many years.

“The leadership conference started about 17 years ago,” Alexander said. “It was started by then Assistant Principal Dwight Greer and former English teacher Roxanne Ramsey, and they asked me to help them out.”

The conference spans about thirty hours over the weekend, starting on Friday after school until 10 p.m., continues on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and ends on Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Alexander explained that students apply to participate in the leadership conference. The applications were reviewed by a committee including himself, Principal James Reed III, and Assistant Principal Ryan Patti. A planning committee consisting of roughly 25 students also reviewed applications and helped to plan the conference activities.

Alexander aims for a balance of new and experienced conference attendees.

“This year we had a pretty good cross section… about 50% of the students attending have not attended the conference before,” he said.

The leadership conference has truly changed my high school experience. My entire perspective was flipped by the activities and discussions.

— Senior Emily Einhorn

Alexander explained that the purpose of the leadership conference is to bring students together and discuss how to be upstanders.

“It’s more about teaching people that they’re not alone…that it’s okay to stand up for something you believe in…whether it’s against bullying, making fun of someone, using words you shouldn’t use… It can be virtually anything,” he said.

Events at the conference include group activities as well as a ropes course at Camp Ashbury in Hiram.

Alexander explained that the ropes course includes a low ropes piece that builds teamwork and a high ropes piece that incorporates individual challenges. The course also includes an alpine climbing tower.

In addition, students make paper mailboxes at the conference and drop notes to compliment and build one another up.

“[The mailbox] allows…kids to express themselves in a way they may not be comfortable doing face to face,” Alexander said.

Students finally participate in a town hall session and listen to a motivational speaker at the end of the conference.

“Students talk about issues that concern them, whether it’s…the pressure of being in a lot of classes and how to deal with that stress, or how to find success in an AP class,” Alexander said. “It kind of varies from year to year depending on what students want to talk about.”

Senior Emily Einhorn is on the conference planning committee and has been to the leadership conference three times. She recommends it to all students.

“The leadership conference has truly changed my high school experience,” Einhorn wrote in an email. “My entire perspective was flipped by the activities and discussions.”

“I could not describe how much I look forward to this weekend, but I can tell anyone how much of an impact it can make on your four years at BHS,” she added.

Einhorn went on to describe how she felt at her first leadership conference.

“I have to admit I was a bit nervous about what the conference would be like, but the leadership conference has given me an opportunity to make relationships with students I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to.”

“It’s a great way for students to meet other people and build connections,” Alexander added. “They can meet and find people to talk to about issues that are common among teenagers at BHS.”