Oak Harbor High School students were recognized by the school board during its Dec. 13 meeting for hosting a virtual leadership conference for students all across the state last month.
The annual conference of the Association of Washington Student Leaders convened for five hours on Nov. 5.
Oak Harbor leadership students had originally been selected to put on the conference in 2020. Typically, the conference lasts an entire weekend and takes place on the hosting high school’s campus, and visiting students from across the state stay with local families.
The conference was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. With COVID-19 continuing to pose a threat throughout 2021, Oak Harbor students decided to put on a one-day virtual conference this year. More than 1,800 students from all over the state attended.
“I’m super proud of everyone,” leadership advisor Erica Schulle said in the school board meeting. “The unwavering encouragement of our people — it’s just huge.”
Oak Harbor high schoolers led the charge for the length of the conference, directing students to the various presentations and managing the technology and logistics.
Students were in charge of arranging speakers, scheduling breakout rooms and even presenting on topics such as activity administration and increasing inter-club unity.
“I hosted one of our little Zoom group meetings where I talked about how to run assemblies,” said Thinalyn Ramier, an Oak Harbor junior who helped put on the conference.
Ramier serves as a leader in several capacities, including as captain of the girls swim team and student representative to the school board.
“I talked about how to bring student voice into each and every one of those and set where you want your standards to be within the school,” she added.
Oak Harbor junior Ainsley Nelson, a varsity cheerleader who plans to study nursing after high school, was one of the conference’s primary organizers and hosts.
“I was also part of doing a ‘Meet the Pros’ room about how to get sports and clubs within our school to support each other,” she said.
Ramier said the conference is about teaching students to see themselves as leaders and understand and utilize the power they have to drive positive change in their schools.
“Such a small town, and we’re able to do this — I think that’s amazing,” she said.
Oak Harbor’s leadership program includes two classes that focus on topics such as character development, personal choices, communication, project management and other components of servant leadership. Leadership students host activities such as dances, assemblies and contests that build unity and belonging within the school.