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WILD Student Leadership Conference helps students become better leaders

Students file into the room just in time for another breakout session to begin. They take their seats as another student stands in the front of the room, ready to deliver a presentation on public speaking. The room listens attentively as the presenter speaks, taking notes and hanging on their every word.

This past November, the “We’re Intentional about Leadership Development” (WILD) program, hosted their second leadership conference. Students were given the opportunity to participate in this event by either attending or presenting a breakout session.

Lynn Fiscus, overall organizer for the WILD Student Leadership Conference, asked the student engagement and activities coordinator at each school in LCPS to sponsor this event for their school. 

“Once I saw the value and the information that was being presented at WILD and how the students could connect with kids from other schools, it wasn’t just something that they [Fiscus] wanted me to do, it was also something that I wanted to do,” student engagement and activities coordinator Lacey Kimbrough said.

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Kimbrough informed students about the event.

“My biggest goal in taking on this role as a student engagement coordinator was getting students more involved and making sure that they were aware of all the student leadership opportunities that were available to them, regardless of whether they were in a club or co-curricular, or an organization like National Honors Society,” Kimbrough said. 

The first-ever WILD Student Leadership Conference was held during the 2022-2023 school year.

Senior Charlotte Edmonds attended the 2022 session. “Last year I got to attend [as a participant], so I really learned a lot of different tactics and methods that I could bring back to my own school and my own leadership roles,” Edmonds said.

Charlotte Edmonds (left) and Sela Campbell (right), representatives of the yearbook staff, give a presentation on the basics of yearbook creation, photography, and journalistic writing at the 2023 WILD Student Leadership Conference. The WILD Student Leadership Conference is hosted annually to give students the opportunity to grow their leadership and team building skills. Photo by Lacey Kimbrough.

When positive reviews came in, the event was held again on November 7. Edmonds attended this year as a presenter and representative for the yearbook committee. She, along with her co-presenter, presented a breakout session titled “A Guide to Creating Your School’s Yearbook.”

“It was a really cool experience to be there, both as an attendee that first year that it started, and as a presenter,” Edmonds said.

“To me, it’s a way for different student leaders throughout the county and all different schools to come together and share different ways that they have been able to serve as leaders at their own school,” Edmonds said. 

Edmonds called the event a “networking opportunity” for students. The conference not only sparked ideas within students on how to become the best student leaders in their schools, but it also made students think about ways to help their communities and become better citizens.

Edmonds praised the organization of the event this year.

The Black Student Union also hosted a breakout session at the 2023 WILD Student Leadership Conference, with senior Madison Ruff being the keynote speaker for her presentation.

“It was an opportunity to meet other people that were like me, that were leaders in their schools. It was somewhere where I could ask any questions that I had and get insight from students my age,” Ruff said.

Ruff helped host a breakout session on cultural clubs and their impact on the school community. The presentation talked about the process of getting a cultural club, like the Black Student Union, started, how staff interacted with it, and how the club has made a difference.

Ruff had thought of the conference highly and mentioned that she “got a lot of really good ideas” from the conference. She also mentioned that participating in the conference was beneficial for her.

Overall, for participants and presenters alike, the WILD Student Leadership Conference was a place to share their thoughts on things that were going on in their community and how to solve problems that may occur while leading a project, such as starting a new organization or club.

Kate Garnes, a motivational speaker and self-titled “Gladiator,” as well as superintendent Aaron Spence, attended the conference.

Spence talked about how the conference was a way for student leaders to voice their opinions and give their insight on matters occurring in their communities.

Garnes gave a powerful speech on teen life and motivated teens to be the best version of themselves they could be.

“Why do we have to go to the negative when it comes to ourselves?” Garnes said, speaking about all of the negative thoughts she had to overcome when she was a teen. Her speech served as a motive for not just student leaders, but all teens, to get help when they needed it.

During the duration of the event, students were inspired to make a change in their communities. All participating in the event this year, presenters and attendees, learned more about the event.

“Try to branch out, talk to people that you didn’t know before, that are from different schools,” Ruff said. “That’s where you really get your new ideas.”

Ruff believes that being open to conversations with new people can help future students from benefiting at this event.

“I think they [students] should speak up more when attending the event,” Edmonds said. “Definitely share your opinions about things if you’re in a breakout session. Just be involved.”

“The event truly is made for students,” Kimbrough said. “There are so many opportunities at this one event for students to learn and benefit from.”

As sponsors and students start to prepare for next year’s WILD Student Leadership Conference, there is one clear message the organization wants students to know: “Keep an open mind.”

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About the Contributor
Karan Singh, business manager
Karan Singh is a sophomore at Loudoun County High School. This is his first year working for The County Chronicle. Karan likes writing investigative reports and articles that expose secrets. Outside of school, Karan likes listening to music, reading, writing, hanging out with friends, and talking.

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