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Emerging Leaders Motivated at Regional Conference

A three-day leadership experience was inspirational for four Seaford High School students, who hope to use the knowledge they gained to better their school and community. Sophomores Alyssa Fariello, Matthew Kind, Mia Leggio and Victoria Stebner attended the 2024 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership conference from June 7-9 at Adelphi University. 
They were selected earlier in the year by a panel of administrators, teachers and students for their leadership potential. While they regularly interact with each other at school, the four weren’t together much during the conference, as they were in groups with students from other Long Island and Westchester high schools.
“They really tried to focus you on building new connections,” Victoria said. 
In their groups, students worked on a variety of hands-on projects. In the free market challenge, each group had to come up with a product or service, as well as marketing and sales plans. There were also passion projects in which students had to come up with ideas to solve problems related to different enduring issues, such as food insecurity, poverty and unemployment. Fun activities like Olympic games and group cheers furthered chances to bond. 
Mia explained that teamwork was essential for success in the group activities, and everyone brought their individual strengths.   
Each group was led by a senior facilitator and at least one junior facilitator, all of whom previously attended the conference. Alyssa had the fortune of having a Seaford High School alum as her group’s senior leader. The students stayed in Adelphi’s residence halls for two nights and said some of the best moments were at night, after the planned activities ended, when they got to know their fellow ambassadors from other high schools in a more informal setting. 
All students were together for the guest speakers. One of the most inspiring for Seaford’s HOBY ambassadors was a presentation from youth motivational speaker David Flood. He spoke about the importance of inclusion, emphasized respecting adults, and explained the difference between awareness and acceptance, and sympathy and empathy. There was also a panel of speakers from non-profit organizations, and a mindfulness guru who led students through breathing and relaxation exercises.
Alyssa noted that each speaker had a different approach to leadership that was shaped by his or her individual background and experiences. 
“Leadership isn’t black and white,” she said. “Your experiences will shape how you lead. I’m going to be more confident in my ability to lead, and now I can use it to help benefit the school and the community.” 

Participants also worked on community service projects including making bracelets and cards for children battling illnesses. Over three days, they learned the differences between personal, group and service leadership as they explored their own leadership qualities, their ability to work with others and opportunities to make change. 
Victoria said a lesson that stood out was the importance of doing good deeds when other people are around, not for the recognition, but to inspire others. She also said that being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean having a leadership title. 

“Just because you aren’t the president of a club doesn’t mean you aren’t important or your values shouldn’t be present,” she said.  

For Matthew, one of the biggest take-aways from the weekend was how to be a good leader through his actions.  
“It was definitely worth it,” he said. “It really showed how you can be a leader and how you can inspire others as well. You can quietly set a good example in your community.”

Date Added: 06/20/2024

students at leadership conference