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Workshop cultivates next crop of leaders

9/26/2012

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Some students don't get the chance to attend the summer student council workshop at Emporia State University, a jam-packed, week-long event Ross Werth calls the best camp in which he has ever participated.

So advisers and sponsors take their students to the next-best thing, a regional workshop in the fall.

"We always get new ideas, and it's something we talk about all the way home," said adviser Kim Trexler from Hill City, one of 13 schools that took part in Tuesday's workshop at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, put on by stuco president Werth and the rest of his student council executive board and student council members.

"And it's fun to share with other advisers," Trexler added.

Melinda Cross, one of Hays High School's co-sponsors, has worked the summer stuco workshop 17 years, calling it "one of the great things I like to do in the summer."

But she also thinks the regional workshops are beneficial, partly because of the larger number of participants her school can take.

"They get to see a quality speaker and interact with quality students from around the area," Cross said. "They get to see what ideas work for others."

This year's speaker was Patrick Maurer from Arizona, a veteran of speaking to student leadership groups around the country.

Maurer told the students the one thing that stops students -- and people, in general -- from taking action is fear.

To be a leader, he said, students need to step out of their comfort zone "or you will miss out on a fun ride that life has to offer."

David Cherry, assistant executive director of the Topeka-based Kansas State High School Activities Association, agreed.

"One of the best things I do in my job is to get the chance to connect with student leaders," said Cherry, who is in charge of student councils for KSHSAA. "We network and find out what is really important to your school."

Cherry and Maurer have been traveling the state the past two weeks, putting on eight similar workshops.

"We travel about 3,000 miles and see 3,000 kids," said Cherry, formerly a principal at Ellis High School who said he always enjoys coming back to Ellis County. "This is a great opportunity for kids to see inside of other schools."

TMP student council sponsor Kathy Taylor said the workshop provided some challenges since it fell just a few days after the Monarchs' homecoming, but her executive board did a good job of getting it all put together.

"Just putting it on is an exercise in leadership itself," Taylor said of the workshop, which involved approximately 200 students. "Planning it, setting up, cleaning up, being discussion leaders -- it's a lot of work, and the kids did a great job with it."

The host school is in charge of entertainment, and TMP decided to highlight its international students.

More than 50 students from eight different foreign countries help make up TMP's enrollment of 235, and they came into the auditorium presenting their country's flags. Music was played from the different countries as well.

"There's a song by a Korean rapper the kids all like, and they had so much fun with it at homecoming," Taylor said. "I think it was a good way to show off our international students."