Student Leadership Conference uncovers teens' potential


Juliette Ciullo

On Oct. 10 and 11, students left Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School for Student Leadership Conference (SLC) for a two-day trip. They returned around 8:00 pm. Teachers nominated 50 students from all grades that showed an aptitude for leadership qualities and invited them to participate in a trip to develop their skills and form a leadership community. At the conclusion of the trip, participants chose one out of four proposed plans to better the community. These service projects ranged from ideas concerning the environment, dementia, diverse representation, and a club that combined several service categories. Ultimately, after a vote, the club ECO, Environment & Climate Organization, was formed. The club’s goal is to establish a school compost and ensure that the school is recycling. 
Students encountered a variety of team-building challenges and rope courses, but the best thrill of the trip was their hike on a section of the Appalachian trail in the Delaware Water Gap. The roughly four-mile displayed a beautiful view of the river surrounding the Fairview Lake YMCA camp that the high school nominees stayed at. This wilderness retreat required students to stay in cabins, although most of the day was spent outdoors. 
Additional activities included owling (searching for owls in the woods at night), campfires and s’mores. Chaperones including Mrs. Della Pietra, Mrs. Calamusa, Mr. Rittner, Mrs. Bistrimovich, and Mr. Rafferty) generously helped facilitate the conference.  
“It allows them to either build self-confidence or tap into their hidden potential. Students feel encouraged and encourage others.” Italian teacher Della Pietra said. 
Though some students believed the conference forced them to fall behind on their school work, others felt the trip inspired them. 
“Overall, the leadership conference created a significant impact on me because I connected with others that I probably wouldn’t have met on a daily basis. The conference definitely makes you go out of your comfort zone for sure; which is something we all need to experience once in a while.” junior and SLC nominee Mia Aponte said.