The opportunity for Brandon’s three local high schools to collaborate together on a project does not happen very often.
From Oct. 11-12, the three student councils from Crocus Plains Regional High School, École Secondaire Neelin High School as well as Vincent Massey High School joined forces to host the 2012 Manitoba Student Leadership Conference at CFB Shilo. Two hundred students and teachers gathered from 23 Manitoba high schools to participate in the two-day conference.
The planning of the conference began approximately one year ago, with student council advisors from all three high schools working together throughout the school year and summer months to plan and organize the conference.
“Our inspiration for the conference came from attending the Canadian Student Leadership Conference over the past three years,” said teacher Agnieszka Desjardins, one of the conference chairs.
“At the national level, we have the opportunity to network with 800 of the most positive and motivated youth and teacher advisors from across Canada. Each year the national conference organizers blow us away with their dedication and commitment to putting together an inspiring conference that changes the lives of our students. Our vision and goal for MSLC this year, was to put on a conference of the same quality at the provincial level.
Throughout the course of the two-day conference, students participated in a series of workshops that included Brandon’s Youth Revolution, Winnipeg’s Students Working Against Tobacco team, Sarasvati Productions and a presentation from Canada’s Association of Student Activity Advisors’ board member, Dave Conlon.
The highlights of the conference included keynote speakers Mark Black as well as Lt.- Col. Richard Goodyear.
“We were quite excited to add Mark Black to our lineup of keynote speakers,” conference chair Kerri Malazdrewicz said.
“After living with a life-threatening defect, this gentleman was the recipient of a double lung and heart transplant at the age of 24. A New Brunswick native, Mark Black shared his life’s experiences and lessons with our students — how to face adversity and challenges with a positive attitude.”
Meanwhile, Shilo base commander Goodyear spoke about the difference between transactional leadership and transformational leadership and how there is a time for each.
“He explained how to be a strong transformational leader and make an impact on those you’re leading, and that is something that I will take forward with me,” said Crocus Plains student council president Paige Kasprick.
Another major component of the conference was a 16-booth tradeshow with universities, colleges, promotional companies, fundraising opportunities, charitable organizations, and yearbook as well as photography companies on site for students to network and make connections with.
“The tradeshow was quite beneficial and provided [students] with a wealth of resources. I really enjoyed that opportunity,” said student Sam Fredericksen from Neelin High School.
Other conference activities included opening ceremonies, a MuchMusic motivational media presentation, a MuchMusic video dance, spirit group teambuilding and a cheeroff, as well as closing conference ceremonies where a sponsor draw took place.
Since the conference, student council advisors have been busy reflecting with students about the learning that took place at MSLC.
“At the two-day conference, I learned the importance of being positive and confident when you are a leader. The soldiers and keynote speakers taught me a lot about not just being a better leader but a better person also,” said Grade 10 Crocus Plains student Hannah Granger.
Vincent Massey’s deputy vice-president Zaina Bird “learned a lot about the world that I didn’t know because of the conference. These experiences last a lifetime, and are truly life-changing.”
Vincent Massey’s council president Chuka Obijiaku explains that for him, “MSLC was a place for young leaders like me to shine and step up. The challenge now is to keep the sense of leadership that seems to express itself naturally in the conference, outside of an environment where it is easy to be a leader.”
Through the process, Vincent Massey student Tara VanCauwenberghe made note of the hard work of the MSLC planning committee.
“A lot of hard work went into planning this event and I appreciated every bit of it,” she said. “MSLC gave me a great opportunity to meet other energetic students from all over Manitoba, many whom I have kept in touch with since I left MSLC. I honestly feel that I am a better person today because I have attended these conferences.”
The MSLC planning committee would like to thank Canadian Forces Base Shilo for their support and generosity. The committee would like to extend a special thanks to Lt.-Col. Goodyear for his continued support of the conference, as well as Capt. Craig Butler for going above and beyond his duties to act as liaison between CFB Shilo and Brandon School Division.
The conference would also like to express their gratitude to the many sponsors who supported the conference. Without their financial support, the conference could not have been possible.
The MSLC planning committee included conference chairs Kerri Malazdrewicz and Agnieszka Desjardins as well as the dedication of planning committee teachers Katie Bonk, Lindsay Eckersley, Jamie Harrison and Kirby Penner.
In addition, approximately 45 student volunteers from Brandon’s three high schools helped run the conference. Students acted as greeters, spirit leaders, registration, mascots, emcees and photographers, as well as introduction and thank-you presenters for workshops.
“It didn’t matter how much planning we, as conference organizers put forth, in the end, it was our students who were the key to the success of the conference. They did a phenomenal job of representing the Brandon School Division and we are extremely proud of all of them,” Desjardins said.