Above: Morinville Community High School Teacher Tara Ricioppo and MCHS Student Council member Rowan Weinmeier hold a poster for the upcoming Horizons Leadership Conference. – Stephen Dafoe Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville Community High School (MCHS) will gather with students throughout the region for a leadership conference on Feb. 23. The one-day Horizon Leadership Conference runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre and the school.
The event promises a full-day journey for student leaders and teacher advisors, providing participants with motivation, inspiration, and information to make their schools better places for learning and student life.
MCHS Teacher Tara Ricioppo, one of the event’s organizers, said the Canadian Student Leadership Association (CSLA), which MCHS is a member of, puts on the Horizons Leadership Conference.
“We’ve worked with them before. We had a provincial leadership conference back in 2008. It was a three-day conference,” Ricioppo said. “It was super exciting and super fun.”
However, pulling students out of school for a couple of days and adding a weekend to that can be challenging, which led CSLA to do more mini-conferences like the one in Morinville on Feb. 23.
Although hosted by MCHS, the event targets students from grades 7 to 10 from any school. Students in grades 11 and 12 are also welcome to benefit from the event. The only caveat is that each school must have a teacher advisor attending to participate.
“It gives our students an opportunity to lead students—student leaders leading students,” Ricioppo explained of the motivation behind hosting this year. “We’ve taken students to Horizons before, and those are good opportunities. To be a host school, our kids get the opportunity to be front and center. A couple of our kids are going to be emcees and meet and greet with the keynotes.”
The conference will have two keynote speakers: Levi Stanford and Jeff Gerber.
Stanford tragically lost his left hand in an accident five days after his marriage and uses that experience to convey life lessons and teach skills and techniques to help participants face trials and adversity
with a positive attitude.
Jeff Gerber led what organizers say was a significant and impactful high school leadership program in Ontario. He will demonstrate his natural way of connecting with people and moving them to action.
In addition to the two keynote speakers, Ricioppo said students will participate in several interactive activities and a break-out session.
“It gives our students an opportunity to be real leaders,” Ricioppo said of the upcoming conference. “They’re being asked to be leaders in their school and among their peers all the time, but this is giving them an opportunity with other student leaders.”
Grade 10 student and MCHS Student Council member Rowan Weinmeier also believes the one-day conference is a considerable benefit.
“I’m very excited,” Weinmeier said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done it here. It [the conference] shows that we take this stuff seriously and really care about becoming something in the community.”
Registration for the Horizons Leadership Conference is $30 per student, including lunch. Registration is available online at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScT5O1AcNC3B7dAMDaeJcjphC-Ik-ZfyHBYGv5g7WJm1drwSQ/viewform. Registrants also have the opportunity to apply for a $500 grant for their school.