Defining the leaders of tomorrow

GOWRIE – The leaders of tomorrow developed a better understanding of what it takes to be effective leaders Thursday during the annual Twin Lakes Conference Leadership Day at Prairie Valley High School in Gowrie.

One hundred students from nine school districts in the region spent the school day listening to a youth motivational speaker, taking part in activities and games, and engaging in small group discussions. The participants were primarily members of the student council or otherwise filled roles of student body authority within their respective high schools. They are a specifically targeted group, said Sherry Vogel, the student council adviser for Prairie Valley High School.

“This came about so the kids can learn to be better leaders in their families, their communities and especially in their schools,” she said.

Craig Hilliar, a student motivational speaker from the Twin Cities, shared with those assembled a program he calls “Breakthrough Leadership.” Using interactive media, music and small group exercises, he guided the teens through lessons on the qualities of leaders, as well as the approaches used by successful leaders. The workshop also encouraged introspection by the teens, prompting them to discuss their own personal strengths along with how they define success and failure and how to push past what is holding them back from being better leaders.

Hilliar has spoken to more than 2 million students through his presentations and has written two books on the subject of improving teen leadership. In addition to the leadership seminar, he offers youth-oriented presentations on being a better team member, how to identify and be positive role models, and maintaining resiliency, respect and responsibility.

Midway through the day’s session Hannah Peterson, of Prairie Valley, said she had already learned approaches that will help her to get people to work as a cohesive group and she has improved her own problem solving skills.

Andrea Heschke, of Alta-Aurelia High School, said the workshop has helped her to better define what it takes to be a leader and for her that’s resilient optimism.

“You don’t let people get you down,” she said. “Leadership means you help other people up, and if you’re the one other people are helping up, thank them and pass it on.”

The schools that participated in the event were Alta-Aurelia High School, Laurens-Marathon High School, Southeast Webster Grand High School, Storm Lake St. Mary’s High School, East Sac County High School, Newell-Fonda High School, Graettinger-Terril High School, Prairie Valley High School, and Sioux Center High School.