By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – Elementary school students danced, traveled through space and went behind the scenes of a theatre production at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Nearly 200 fifth- and sixth-graders recently attended the Region IV Youth Leadership Conference at UNK.
According to Ed Scantling, dean of the College of Education, the conference is limited to fifth- and sixth-graders who demonstrated leadership skills at their schools and were selected by their principals to attend.
“The purpose of the conference is to build on those leadership skills these students have demonstrated and to reward them for their leadership in their schools,” said Scantling.
Students from elementary schools in Hastings, Juniata, Burwell, Cairo, Cozad, Doniphan, Gothenburg, Grand Island, Kearney, Lexington, North Platte, Ravenna, Shelton and St. Paul attended the Nov. 15 conference.
The day began with a presentation by Kent Boughton, chief forecaster for NTV. “It was important for me to be involved with this year’s conference because I felt I was an example of someone who became a leader at a young age,” he said.
Boughton became a radio announcer at age 15, a television weather forecaster at 20, and worked as an outdoor writer, singer, conservationist and educator.
“I advised the group they could do anything they set their minds to. Be courteous, kind, practice good manners and always treat others the way you want to be treated,” Boughton said. “Make goals for yourself and reach them. In life there will be disappointments, but if you fail you need to pick yourself up and keep looking forward in a positive way.”
In the afternoon, students rotated among nine stations in locations across campus where they received instruction from UNK faculty and staff on a variety of career, university and leadership topics.
“It is important for elementary students to understand that they have a role in leading their classrooms, their schools and their communities,” said Allyson Bohlen, Region IV President and principal at Adams Central Wallace Elementary School in Hastings. “By interacting with the keynote speakers, building skills with activities that have been designed by the education department, and attending on campus break out sessions, these students are building their own leadership skills and personalities that will help them teach others.
“The goal is that these students return to their classmates and schools and share what they have learned and develop leaders as part of a school team.”
Students got a dance lesson from music and performing arts lecturer Dayna DeFilippis in the Dance Studio. They learned to identify leaders who guide transportation systems from industrial technology senior lecturers Terry Gibbs and Steve Amundson. Students also learned about planets and stars in the planetarium with physics and physical science associate professors Timothy Reece and Lee Powell.
Students also took part in economics activities, took a tour of the Miriam Drake Theatre, visited a Mac lab in the College of Education building, participated in leadership activities at the Cushing Coliseum Field House and learned how to write their names in phonetics and test alternative communication devices.
Other UNK faculty and staff involved in the conference were Mary Rittenhouse, director of the UNK Center for Economic Education; music and performing arts professors Michael DeLorm and Darin Himmerich; Shelley Haberlan, director of industrial technology for the College of Education; health, physical education and recreation senior lecturers Eve Scantling and Terri Sheridan; and Mary Kommers, communication disorders senior lecturer.
At the end of the event, students discussed what they gained from the day that will help them become more effective leaders in school and in the community.
Bohlen said the conference taught students about goal setting, verbalizing dreams, planning for the future and communicating with others.
The conference was hosted by the UNK College of Education.
Source: Ed Scantling, 308-865-8502, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com