Selected 9th-graders get 2 days of leadership training

January 07, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

More than 200 ninth-graders, hand-picked to become future leaders in Baltimore County schools, are attending a two-day conference designed to develop their potential.

The students, about 10 from each of the county's 24 high schools, are "a mixture of students who have shown leadership and others who have not," said Kim Whitehead, who planned the Student Development Academy.

They are not the student council presidents and organization leaders. Some are excellent students, some average or below. Grades weren't part of the selection process.

The two-day conference is the first of several events planned to help these students focus on their goals and aspirations, develop their leadership abilities and use their abilities to help others. Next week they will "graduate" to Student Development Academy associates during a celebration at Martin's West.

In the fall they will be trained as mentors for the next crop of young leaders. They'll also earn student service credits for mentoring. The state requires the credits for graduation.

"Their work is not done," said Ms. Whitehead, the schools' supervisor of multicultural education. "I will be watching them to make sure they are taking certain courses, that their attendance is up, that they are taking leadership roles."

To get started, each student is attending six of 12 workshops offered yesterday and today at Catonsville Community College.

Conducting a workshop on paying for college, William Bressler Jr., a guidance counselor at Parkville High School, told the youngsters, "There are hundreds, thousands of scholarships out there. . . . You need to fight for financial aid. You are competing for that money."

Donald Mohler had an inspirational message for his workshop on the challenge of leadership.

"Hills and valleys, this is life, guys," the Catonsville High School principal said as he drew a deeply curved line on the chalk board. "You're not always up here." He pointed to a peak. And, when you're in a valley, "go back and get in touch with your goals," he said. "Go home and write your goals down and tape them to your mirror. Use them to throw off the yuck."

Though some students didn't think the conference lived up to its billing, most gave the first day good reviews.

"It's a wonderful experience," said Towson High student Latoyia Harris.

Dave Dilliard, 15, a student at Patapsco High, said the workshops missed the point: "They are not teaching anything about being a leader. We didn't get to any issues."

Helene Minus, a student at Eastern Technical High School, said, "I feel better about myself. . . . I know that I have people who want my opinion on things, who take my views into consideration."

Miss Minus' fellow student, David Capers, also was complimentary. "It's a nice workshop," he said. "They show you good points of view so you won't grow up to be nothing. You'll grow up to be something."

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