Skills Spotlight: Fifth Annual RCDS Student Leadership Conference

Students explore leadership, practice critical thinking and communication skills, and set collective and individual goals at this annual, collaborative conference.

On Saturday, August 17, 60 student leaders participated in the fifth annual Student Leadership Conference at RCDS. At this conference, which is held the weekend before preseason, team captains, club leaders, student officers, peer leaders, and more gather to learn about leadership in a way that guides them throughout the course of the upcoming year. Providing the opportunity to discuss the theme of leadership and learn about various leadership styles, the conference helps students set specific goals and consider how they might accomplish them for the organizations they lead.

This year, the day-long conference was comprised of three components. During the first component, students met with adult leaders to examine eight true-to-life school case studies. Each case study ended with the question: What should a student leader do given this situation? Adult leaders acted as discussion facilitators, and students drove the conversation employing critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability in contemplating what would be expected of a leader in each scenario. The second component of the conference was a discussion on goal setting led by student body president Sabrina Reznik '20. The full group of student leaders brainstormed ideas of what they wanted to focus on as a student body this year, and they later concentrated on three top ideas—School Community and Spirit, Clubs at School, and Open Conversations—that they discussed in further detail in smaller breakout groups. The conference's third component was dedicated to examining the personal leadership styles of participating students, namely how they will lead their respective clubs, teams, or organizations. To support and inform their collaborative conversations, the group read a short piece about nine distinct styles of leadership and watched movie clips illustrating the practice and application of various approaches to leadership.

The conference concluded with the students working on a set of goals for their organizations, articulating a pathway to meet these goals, and then sending their goals and plans to the club advisor or team coach. Throughout the day, the student leaders exhibited high levels of enthusiasm, energy, and focus, and they left the conference feeling positive and excited about the important role they will play in making the upcoming year at Rye Country Day a success.