Students learn important lessons at annual Student Leadership Conference


Erica Schindler

On the first Monday and Tuesday of October, most students at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School had pretty normal school days. But students who were selected to go to SPFHS’ annual Student Leadership Conference gained an experience that they will never forget.
The Student Leadership Conference, or SLC, is a two-day overnight conference that the school holds every year where students have the opportunity to participate in various activities aimed at strengthening their leadership abilities.
“Every year we go to the Lakeview YMCA out in Newton, New Jersey. It’s about an hour and a half away…and it’s kind of isolated in the woods,” said biology teacher Matthew Rittner, who helps run SLC. “It’s really sort of picturesque and it’s the type of place where once you get there, you don’t want to come back home.”
To be selected for SLC, students must display confidence and leadership skills in the classroom and be nominated by a teacher.
“[We’re looking for] somebody that is confident, but doesn’t necessarily need to be outspoken,” said Italian teacher Giuseppina Della Pietra. “It’s somebody that has creative ideas [and] is always ready to help,”
At the conference, the students did a lot of outdoor activities like owl watching, rowing and hiking. They even stayed in cabins with their fellow students.
“It almost felt like summer camp. It was so much fun,” said junior Mason Glod. “Kind of like Project Adventure – that type of stuff.”
The students on the trip became closer to one another, forming friendships that may last throughout high school and beyond. Many of the activities designed to “break the ice” helped the students go from strangers to friends.
“I think it’s nice that they really get to know their peers,” said Rittner. “It’s especially important for the freshmen because they’re coming from two different schools and it gives them the opportunity to sort of integrate in a really significant way and feel like they’ve got a permanent place in the school.”
The positive, camp-like experience left a great impact on the students who attended. From sharpening their communication skills to making new friends, the SLC was an inspiring trip the participants will always remember.