Inter-high leaders discuss community service ideas

April 13, 2009

By Christopher Huber

By Christopher Huber

Skyline High School's representatives to the Inter-high leadership conference spent the afternoon of March 25 discussing community service with their peers from across King County at Liberty High School. By Christopher Huber

About 115 student leaders from 10 KingCo conference high schools made stone soup March 25 at Liberty High School.

They didn’t literally eat soup full of rocks, but the potatoes in the veggie soup resembled the magic stone from the legendary story about a man who brings together a starving community to make a scrumptious meal in a time of need.

Presenters told the story at the third Inter-high student leadership conference of the school year. It was meant to inspire the students, mostly Associated Student Body officers, to promote philanthropy and teamwork among their respective student bodies and in their home communities, said Skyline ASB advisor Allison Maners.

What made this gathering different from previous Inter-high events, said organizers, was that ASB officers from all three major Issaquah School District high schools — Issaquah, Liberty and Skyline — planned it together.

“Doing this, I had the opportunity to work with students I didn’t know and was able to connect with the other student leaders in our district,” said senior Jameson Gardner, Skyline co-director of student activities.

It also had a stronger purpose than other meetings, students said. The first two Inter-high meetings were organized around themes such as sportsmanship.

“This one has more purpose than others,” said Skyline’s Michael Lange, co-director of student activities. “It’s not just meeting for the sake of meeting.”

The March 25 conference brought more than a dozen local and national charities and nonprofit organizations, as well as a few school-run causes, to take part in a philanthropy fair. Before the fair, inspirational speakers talked about the values of community service, as well as the success of the Sammamish High Run/Walk for Aidan. That cause began after 2-year-old Aidan Leffler was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in 2006.

“I think that the kids left feeling energized and feeling like they had a better idea of how they could plug into the community. And those were our goals,” said Dana Greenberg, Liberty dean of students. “Kids are looking for a way to be helpful and I think we helped them through that process March 25.”

Organizations like World Vision, Eastside Domestic Violence Program, the American Heart Association and Eastside Baby Corner, set up informational booths and offered opportunities for students to spread awareness or to sign up to volunteer.

It was “opportunities for students who want to make a difference but don’t know how,” said Liberty Inter-high rep Andy Boes. “It opens the door to students to hook into these organizations.”

The speakers and organizations called on students to go out and take action, said Issaquah senior Jaci Belur.

She said it made her ask, “What can I do?”

The students spent about two months meeting regularly at Starbucks to plan the event. Boes, Lange, Belur and Gardner, along with other ASB officers in the district, garnered the participation of the philanthropy fair groups and helped organize the logistics of gathering leaders from the Lake Washington, Northshore, Snoqualmie Valley and Bellevue school districts.

“The one thing I’ve been proud of is that we provided a way for students to take action,” Gardner said. “They may not do anything after hearing from all the different local organizations, but we have created the opportunity.”

ASB leaders said they came away with a stronger sense of connection with local community service groups and now have resources to provide their fellow students. Their advisors had a positive outlook for them, as well.

“Together, they can make this magnificent pot of soup, one piece at time,” Greenberg said.

Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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