Students leading the way in school Group to demonstrate initiative, teamwork

April 20, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

The 125 South Carroll High School students who attended an all-day conference Friday will start the real work tomorrow.

The assignment for these students, selected as the formal and informal leaders of the school's academic and social life, is to spread messages of self-motivation, nonprejudice and teamwork.

"It starts a lot of gears in motion," said senior Aileen Hudspeth. For some students, it has an immediate effect, and for others, it takes longer. "Some of them might not get it until five or six years later," she said.

Aileen and other students who attended the first conference last year volunteered to plan and carry out the event this year.

Part of the motivation for last year's conference was to promote discussion and healing after a race-related outburst several months earlier. When a few students showed up wearing Confederate-flag T-shirts and waving the flag from their cars and trucks, it outraged some students -- black and white -- and led to the principal setting up a plan to ease the tension.

The conference also included other issues, such as sexual harassment last year and self-motivation, leadership skills and gender discrimination this year.

Woodrow B. Grant Jr., chief of the state Department of Education Office of Equity Assurance and Compliance, led a seminar on avoiding stereotypes.

"Watch your words, how you refer to folks, how you refer to groups of people," Grant said. "Your natural predilection can cause you to be biased, so it's very important you get all of the information you can and allow yourself to experience other people, other places."

Grant said in an interview after the seminar that Harford, Frederick and Baltimore counties provide this kind of leadership seminar for selected students from all the high and middle schools.

South Carroll guidance counselor Karen Wright visited the Harford conference a few years ago and brought the idea to South Carroll. No other school in Carroll County does it.

The distinction of these events, Wood said, is choosing not just the student government types and high achievers, but students from across the spectrum of social circles.

"There are kids who aren't as [academic] but who still have that kind of charisma," Grant said.

Principal David Booz said teachers were polled to get a list of students to invite.

Last year, Booz said, a student who attended the conference and heard the principal's call to stand up for what is right actually did something about it.

The student later came to Booz to alert him to a "drug situation," Booz said.

"We expect to continue to do this [conference] for a long time," Booz said. "Each year, there's a different population of students."

During Grant's seminar on stereotyping, he called on students to offer examples of when they entered a new environment.

"Anybody go to camp?" Grant asked.

"I go to basketball camp," offered Tim Peak, a sophomore. "People think they're bad."

"Bad?" Grant asked.

Tim explained that he meant "bad" as in "good."

"They think they're good, but sometimes they're really not as good as they think they are, and you want to tell them, but you don't want to hurt their feelings," Tim said.

"You don't have to tell them," Grant said. "Get out and show them."

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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