New Brunswick Conference by the book and By-the-Sea
19th Annual Student Leadership Conference is First-Rate
By John B., Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB
When it comes to leadership we all have something to learn and something to share. Recently, SRC executive member Hannah Park and I, accompanied by our teacher advisor, Ms. Barnhart, attended the 19th Annual Student Leadership Conference in St. Andrew's, New Brunswick at the Algonquin Hotel.
Represented at the conference were two members of each Student Council from each of 50 public high schools all across New Brunswick. The goal of the conference was to unite all the student governments, share and learn new ideas, and generally, have an uncontrollable amount of fun.
The weekend started Thursday morning, October 23rd. As we set out to St. Andrew's, (which is often called St. Andrew's by the Sea) from the school, I'll be honest with you. Hannah and I were a little nervous. We had no idea what to expect. Presidents/Vice Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurers, Social Committee Chairs, and Public-Relation Reps from all across New Brunswick were going to be there. We were a little bit intimidated. Who were we going to be rooming with? Were the people there going to like us? Would we have fun? In hindsight, I imagine all the other participants were probably thinking the same thing. To summarize, we had no idea what to expect.
We arrived. We registered. We got our little handbooks and our little "Student Leadership Conference 2003!" t-shirts and our room keys. We were set to go, yet still a little nervous. As we started preparing for the first activity on the itinerary, we immediately met our two new best friends. ‘Brizzle-B-Rad' and ‘A-dot' (as we so affectionately nicknamed them) were representatives from Sir James Dunn Academy, the local high school in St. Andrew's. Brad and Alyse were just like us. Brad and I immediately hit it off both being huge "Jimmy Swift Band" and "Grand Theft Bus" fans and avid guitar players. Hannah and Alyse were sharing their deepest life-long secrets by 4 o'clock that afternoon. All of a sudden, it was "mmm & this weekend's gonna be solid."
First up was an event called the ‘storefront'. Businesses that specialize in fundraising, student activities and entertainment were all represented. Businesses like Jostens, Coastal Graphics, Glow Promotions, Hypnotists, Hershey and even MuchMusic all had tables set up in the old casino section of the hotel. These business representatives did their absolute best to try to convince us that our school needs their product/service. Some even went to great lengths to make sure we left their table with a good impression. For example, I didn't leave the hypnotist's table until I'd seen at least 40 card tricks. I also left the storefront with 8 or 9 sample chocolate bars from the various fundraising companies that were represented. I was extremely surprised by how seriously we were taken as potential employers and business partners. Everyone seemed so eager and enthusiastic to work with us.
Supper time. And man, you can just imagine that a place like the Algonquin is going to have something nice and tasty for you to munch on after a long afternoon. The food and service was so outrageously outstanding, I felt like I should leave my entire life savings for a tip. Following the meal were the official opening ceremonies led by the President of the NBASAA, Ms. Carolyn Barnhart and Jocelyn Ball, President of the New Brunswick Student Council. Guest speakers over the course of the weekend included Hugh Kennedy, an N.B. Education representative, Hermenegilde Chaisson, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick and even Madeline Dube, the Minister of Education.
After the opening ceremonies, ice-breaker games were led by probably the most entertaining man in the history of time, Stu. Stu is a motivational speaker from London, Ontario who really knows how to get people laughing, crying and if he so pleased, standing on their heads and spitting quarters. When the man talks, you listen. He's been literally all across North America. He was so captivatingly genius, my only regret of the weekend was that I didn't find a way to secretly kidnap him and bring him home with me.
Stu has been booked to speak at the National Leadership Conference in 2006 when it is held at the great Fredericton High School. I could write this entire article on Stu. But I can't.
We were then divided into discussion groups where we all brought our best student council ideas to the table and blatantly planned on copying each other. This was quite possibly one of my favorite sections of the weekend because my hand hurt from writing down so many ideas. After the discussion groups, we divided ourselves into our districts and started to plan for the variety show the following night. The theme was reality TV, so we unanimously decided on acting out a scene where an SRC is trapped in an SRC office and can't get out. Those were good times. I will truly remember it forever.
The days were so packed; supper that very same day felt like it had been a week ago. I was hungry again. So was everyone else. So we had pizza! Then we slowly, reluctantly and eventually said our goodnights and headed off to our respective rooms where I met my roommate, Dave J. A fantastic character, to say the absolute least. I was especially relieved because I had been so nervous I was going to have to room with some crazy stranger. But I didn't have to; he was normal. Better than normal, in fact.
The next morning started with some disgruntled and tired ‘good-mornings', breakfast and a keynote session by Stu. Shortly after breakfast, we loaded onto buses and headed off to St. Stephen Elementary School to present our prepared story-sacs. The story-sacs were stories planned to be read to kids with a sac full of props, scenes and little characters cut out and put on Popsicle sticks so we could interact with the kids and they could participate in the story. This went over really well. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, the kids or Hannah and me.
From there, we traveled to Todd's Point in the Ganong Nature Park. There we ate our lunches, played guitar and played some intense games, like passing a half-inch piece of banana from person to person using only your lips. This was one of the more conservative games of the day, if you get the picture. Those were good times, right there.
We traveled back to St. Andrew's and attended workshops for the afternoon. The workshops were great, because you could choose where you needed the help. Options included Spirit Activities, Executive Skills, Communication to the Students and Fundraising. After this, we had a chance to get very intimate and interactive with the Minister of Education. She spoke for awhile and then, for a rather satisfying amount of time, answered very difficult and provocative questions in a very professional, yet down-to-earth manner.
Just before we ventured to the elegant New Brunswick Room at the Algonquin for the banquet, in our best attire, we posed for a group photo on the front lawn of the hotel. The banquet was exquisite. All the guys were in their shirts, ties and suits and the girls were all dressed up as well. It was cool to see everyone all dressed up, because all weekend, you were just used to seeing everyone first thing in the morning with Zeppelin shirts on. Now, everyone was ready for a ball. The banquet was where this great school newspaper was awarded best in the province. We also took home best yearbook in the province, which really had Hannah and I being on the receiving end of jealous/bitter looks. It was then that I realized how elite our school really is, not just athletically or student council wise, but for student programs like the yearbook and newspaper. We're the best in the province. Other schools' yearbook committees and newspaper committees strive to be like we are, and that makes me really proud.
We finally got the chance to perform our skit that night at the Variety Show and following that, we got our mad groove on at a bumping Much Music Video Dance in the Casino. Man, were we tired after this. What long days!
Breakfast the next morning was followed by energizers led by our new hero, Stu. And then, we attended the annual New Brunswick Student Council General Meeting which included a lengthy, yet surprisingly interesting agenda. I was impressed with how formally it was run and how much information and territory we were able to cover in such a short period of time.
Stu led the Closing Address which was followed by a lot of e-mail address exchanging, hugs and tears. After lunch, we all headed back to our own hometowns with thousands of new ideas, literally hundreds of new friends and memories to last a lifetime. The benefit from this conference is incomparable, and I know Hannah and I will never forget it.
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