Students attending the first annual Shelby County High School Leadership Conference learned that putting others first, serving gladly, and expressing appreciation often are all important skills to develop in order to become effective leaders in their schools and communities. 186 students from all seven Shelby County high schools attended the one-day event, held September 12 at Valleydale Church.
The Oak Mountain High School Student Government Association sponsored the event after attending a similar event last year at Auburn University. The goal was to give other local high school students the opportunity to experience a leadership conference by making it free to attending and hosting it in Shelby County. The Oak Mountain students raised approximately $10,000 from local businesses and individuals to help offset the cost of the event in order for other students to attend at no cost. The goal for next year is to increase that number by $5,000 in order to expand the conference to an additional 100 students.
Students who attended this year’s project participated in a variety of leadership building games and activities. They also heard from keynote speaker Kevin Scott, the co-founder of ADDO Institute, a leadership organization created to inspire individuals today to impact tomorrow. The students also attended smaller breakout sessions, where they heard from Cameron Thomas, SGA President for Samford University; Lindsey Allison, local attorney and president of the Shelby County Commission; and Mike Tate, owner of Tropical Smoothie Café. The small group sessions were led by 10 college students from Samford University, Auburn University and the University of Alabama.
Students attending the event were challenged to take what they learned about becoming effective leaders and put it into practice at their local schools by planning a “We Give Back” event. Each school will plan some type of community service event in order to give back to the community. Selecting an appropriate project, then organizing and seeing it through to completion will give the students an opportunity to also utilize the leadership skills they learned. The “We Give Back” district-wide service project will be coordinated by OMHS SGA member, Payton Cato, who will work in conjunction with the leaders at each high school who have been selected to coordinate local school efforts.