As summer vacation was reaching its peak, four Fort Campbell High School students were already planning for the upcoming year. They weren't athletes preparing for a new season; they were student council members attending a national conference on leadership.

"At the end of the last year, it was offered up to anybody in student council who wanted to go and we had six slots," explained Cami McFarland, senior. "We have a point system in student council where you have to keep so many points and by the deadline only four of us had turned them in. It was like $200 we had to pay to drive up and have the four days there."

McFarland attended the National Association of Student Councils national conference with three other seniors, Rebekah Johnson, Jourdan Lewis and Kathryn Ziegler, held in Indianapolis, Ind., June 26-29.

"It was just a good experience cause after going to Girl State the previous week - it was crazy cause it was all academics - and then going to this it was just so much fun," Lewis said. "Honestly, you just got to branch out too and show your personality with a group of people you don't even know."

"It also helped us make good connections with other kids throughout the United States and even some different places - we met some people from the Virgin Islands," McFarland said. "[It helped] us see how we can help our school and also give them ideas how to help their school."

The girls spent four days receiving training in basic and advanced leadership, communication skills, service, diversity and participated in discussions on issues relevant to high school students.

Lewis said because they had so few students in attendance, the girls split up to attend as many of the workshops as possible.

"One of the workshops I went to was a fundraising one," Ziegler said. "It was just like cool websites and all this other stuff where we learned where to go to get new ideas for fundraising - for student council, for seniors all that stuff - which is why I ran for treasurer this year."

McFarland said the other issues discussed in her workshops included bullying, how to get every student incorporated in the school and how to fill every student with school pride.

"It's letting people know, FCHS can change if you put forth the effort," Ziegler said. "If there's something you don't like, you can put forth the effort and change it to make it better, instead of just complaining about it and not doing anything to fix it."

Although the girls haven't been officially elected back to the student council, they have already begun implementing the strategies they learned at the conference.

"We started off the year and we told all the teachers they couldn't do any academics on the first day - they couldn't hand out a syllabus, they couldn't hand out anything," McFarland said. "Instead we did all icebreaker games and just short 30-minute classes and then we did big rotations within our freshmen, sophomore, junior and seniors so they can get to know other people in their class."

The girls have also come up with a theme for this school year: SOAR - Success, Optimism, Ambition and Respect. They hope to incorporate the theme throughout the year and that graduating seniors leave with a sense that FCHS is changing for the better.

"At the end [of the conference] a man came and talked to us, and one thing that really spoke to me out of the whole entire conference was this guy. He said 'Get what you need in the world,'" Lewis said. "Honestly, I feel like that could be incorporated into our school so much. When you see a kid walking around and his head's down, just give him a smile or something like that cause it'll come back to you - maybe one day you'll need a smile, and then that comes right back to you."

Page last updated Fri August 27th, 2010 at 16:34