YUMA, Ariz. - Student Council members across Yuma Union High School participated in the annual Arizona Association of Student Councils (AASC) Fall Leadership and Conference this week.
Cibola High School and Kofa High School attended Tuesday's event at Valley Vista High School in Surprise, Arizona, while San Luis High School traveled to Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix on Wednesday.
The AASC hosted the conference on four consecutive days at schools throughout the state with a “Toon into Leadership” theme.
“The conference itself is geared around students honing in on leadership skills,” San Luis Student Council Adviser Timothy Rebek said. “Not only does it give our kids good exposure, but another thing I like about this conference is that everyone gets to go. When it comes to other conferences, you can only take 10 [students], you can only take 12, but this one is the whole council. So, it’s a great bonding experience.”
San Luis had 34 students attend, while 38 students attended from Cibola and 35 from Kofa. During the conference at Valley Vista, Cibola’s student council won the “best dressed” award for costumes that resembled characters from the “SpongeBob SquarePants” television program. San Luis dressed as the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and Kofa wore “101 Dalmatians” costumes.
All of the host sites had identical agendas with events throughout the day, including networking and a keynote address from Yahya Baker, a teen motivational speaker.
“[Baker] discussed the importance of surrounding yourself with the kind of people who will help you grow as a human being,” Kofa Student Council Adviser Jennifer Miller said. “In addition, he conducted an activity that had students focus on the importance of paying attention to their similarities as opposed to their differences. It was all about creating an atmosphere of total inclusiveness for all.”
Rebek, who is the longest tenured adviser in YUHSD at 15 years in the position, said the keynote address is something that his students tend to look forward to each year.
“It helps because it tells these kids that they can succeed even through challenges,” Rebek said. “We know these kids have challenges. Not all of them have the same challenges, but it’s just good for them to see that there are options in life even if they feel like their life is not where it should be at this point in time.
“Overall, the conference helps them graduate with more confidence and things like that, which is really what we want them to do; just become well-rounded citizens.”
In addition to hearing from Baker, council members were given time to network with one another, gain ideas for events and fundraising, and get a sense of the way student councils on other campuses function.
For Kofa senior and Student Body Vice President Nayeli Gutierrez, the conference was an eye-opening experience. "It made me realize that it is ourselves who stop us from making relationship connections,” she said. “And thanks to the trip, I know that I need to step up and start a change."
According to AASC’s official website, the association was founded in 1934 by a group of educators seeking to create an organization for student leaders that would encourage them to practice the democratic process, citizenship, and service while fostering idea exchange and problem-solving in the state’s schools. They are affiliated with the National Association of Student Councils.
“Yuma schools are very active with AASC,” Rebek added. “Every school, whether it’s a new adviser or not, we know that our schools are very active and it really looks good on Yuma when you have active kids. All of our sister schools are involved in AASC.”