On Saturday, October 21, a group of 14 Leesville Road High School students wearing matching blue T-shirts arrived at their school around 6:35 a.m. These members and officers of the Leesville Executive Council, awake before many Leesville students had begun to stir, had volunteered to attend the North Carolina Association of Student Councils Central District Conference at Gray’s Creek High School in Hope Mills, North Carolina.
The group consisted of returning members, new members, and officers of the Executive Council. Keysha Mayfield and David Gaston, Leesville Road High School math teachers and Executive Council advisors, accompanied the students to Hope Mills.
The Leesville attendees of the conference had different reasons for choosing to take part in it. Maggie Bell, Executive Council treasurer and Leesville sophomore, wanted to meet new people while Meredith Pearce, a senior at Leesville and an Executive Council member, wished to show her dedication to the Leesville Executive Council.
“I wanted to attend…[the Central District Conference] this year because I wanted to make sure I went to at least one conference…so that I could be a [sic] active member in Executive Council,” said Pearce.
Pearce and Bell, who both attended last year’s Central District Conference, agree that this year’s conference surpassed the 2016 NCASC Central District Conference in terms of organization.
“This one was…really, really organized and…well-run, and…all the workshops were very informative,” Bell said.
While at the conference, student-delegates attended four unique workshops to learn about leadership and how to run successful student councils. The workshops ranged from “Ready, Set, Go,” a workshop on different leadership styles, to “Don’t Stall,” a workshop on time management. Pearce and Bell, along with the other students at the conference, learned from the workshops they attended.
“I just…really loved [the conference], and…I felt like I got a lot out of it between the…different…skill sessions that they had,” said Bell.
Tushar Varma, Leesville senior and Executive Council member who attended the conference, had a unique opportunity to learn about leadership from a new perspective. This past summer, Varma attended the NCASC 2017 Summer Leadership Workshop at Mars Hill University in Mars Hill, North Carolina, and while there, his roommate was Joseph Banko, the 2017–2018 NCASC communications officer. Banko invited Varma to lead a workshop with him at the Central District Conference called “Filling the Stadium,” which focused on how to recruit members into student council.
“[By leading a workshop,] I learned more about…being a better leader…not just…from the receiving end, but from the giving end,” Varma said.
While Varma and Bell agreed that their favorite part of the conference was one of the guest speakers, motivational speaker Donnie Thurman, Jr., Pearce enjoyed an activity that Colby Cochran, the executive director of NCASC, led. Cochran instructed everyone to sit next to a stranger in the auditorium and introduce themselves.
“My favorite part of the conference was when Colby Cochran paired us up with other people that we didn’t know, and then we had to…exchange contact…information…, and we got to know random people,” said Pearce.
Although Thurman’s speech was not her favorite part of the conference, it still provided an important message for Pearce.
“I learned that if you love yourself, anything is possible,” Pearce said.
Varma also took away a powerful message from Thurman’s speech, and he believes he will remember it for days to come.
“I learned that…I may have problems, but…people have problems that are more worse than mine, and they get through it, so…I have no reason to…make up excuses for why I can’t do anything,” Varma said.
Overall, Pearce, Varma, and Bell thoroughly enjoyed their day at Gray’s Creek High School, and they encourage anyone in student council to attend an NCASC district conference.
“Definitely…try to go to at least one [conference] just because you get to…see these people…the next year, and you…establish…some sort of connection,” said Varma. “It’s fun to see them again and get to learn more about developing your own leadership skills.”