For twenty-seven years, The Virginia School-University Partnership has sponsored an Annual Student Leadership Conference. This very popular conference, which was attended last year by more than 350 students and faculty members from more than 40 different high schools from around the state of Virginia, is provided at NO CHARGE to all high schools which are members of VSUP-VaSCL. (VSUP is in the process of transitioning to a new name - The Virginia School Consortium for Learning – so the organization is temporarily using the acronym VSUP-VaSCL.)
All VSUP-VaSCL high schools are encouraged to send a team of student leaders to this year’s Student Leadership Conference, which is scheduled for Thursday, November 16, 2017, at The Emmet Street Holiday Inn, Charlottesville, Virginia, and is absolutely FREE to all participants from VSUP-VaSCL high schools, as a benefit of membership in VSUP-VaSCL.
The theme of the 2017 Student Leadership Conference is “Living Local, Going Global,” and VSUP-VaSCL is pleased to be partnering with EF Education First for the event. This year’s Student Leadership Conference will continue the work of exploring the VDOE “Profile of a Virginia Graduate” that began at last year’s event. This year, the focus will be narrowed to the “Community Engagement and Civic Responsibility” strand of the Profile, with a particular emphasis on becoming a Global Citizen. The goal of the conference this year is to inspire participants to make connections with and develop empathy for other people whose lives and experiences are different from their own.
The Student Leadership Conference will begin with a ninety-minute General Opening Session for all of the more than 300 student participants and their Faculty Advisors. Several different speakers will give short presentations, and there will also be videos and a variety of reflective activities which will focus on developing community engagement and civic responsibility. The goal of the Opening Session is to make students feel empowered to become more involved in their local communities and inspired to become Global Citizens who can make a difference in the world.
After the General Session, all students will be assigned to small groups of approximately 25 students from different high schools to discuss topics and engage in activities related to exploring the challenges and rewards of Global Citizenship. These small group sessions will give all participants the chance to learn more about each other as well as learn more about the over forty different high schools from across the state of Virginia which will be represented at the conference. The hope is that these small group sessions will help students grow as leaders by giving them the opportunity to share their experiences and collaborate with other students in coming up with creative approaches to problems faced by their schools, communities, and the world.
During the conference there will be a sixty-minute large-group Share Fair Assembly during which the schools which have been chosen to do so will make a formal presentation about some program, activity, or event at their school that they are particularly proud of and that they feel students from other high schools would like to learn more about. One goal of this Share Fair is to give students the chance to develop and demonstrate their personal skills as leaders by planning and delivering a five minute presentation for an audience of approximately 200 participants. The other goal of the Share Fair is to allow schools to share “success stories” about programs, activities, and events that are working well in their schools, so that all participants have the opportunity to learn from their peers about ideas which might help them to make connections with and develop a greater respect for other individuals, groups, and cultures in order to successfully address issues that they are dealing with in their schools and communities.
The hope is that participating in this year’s VSUP-VaSCL conference will enhance students’ respect for the diversity of individuals, groups, and cultures in their own communities as well as in the rest of the world. By encouraging participants to see the importance of becoming more engaged in the world around them and demonstrating their respect for others through their words and actions, the conference will help students become more actively involved and more effective leaders who can make a positive impact locally - on their own schools and communities – and globally – as citizens of the world.