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Centennial League Leadership Conference inspires student leaders

Centennial League Leadership Conference They’re normally rivals, cheering for their team to beat their opponent. But on Feb. 20, more than 250 students from seven different high schools were all on the same team.

“Today we’re coming together as a community for the Centennial League,” explained Luke Forbes, a sophomore at Eaglecrest High School, and co-leader of the 2024 Centennial League Leadership Conference. “We’re bringing all of our student leaders together and just making the community a better place through collaboration.”

The Centennial League includes Arapahoe, Cherokee Trail, Cherry Creek, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Overland, and Smoky Hill high schools. This year, Eaglecrest hosted the annual Centennial League Leadership Conference, which is held on a non-contact day when students don’t have class.

Centennial League Leadership Conference Each school sends members of its student council, student government, or student leadership group. Those students are often responsible for planning major events at their schools, such as homecoming or Wish Week, as well as generating school spirit and getting and keeping hundreds of students interested and involved in school activities.

“The events that schools put on are so important to the student body,” explained Sami Alabassi, a junior at Grandview High School. “We really care that the quality of the events is really high and that we have a lot of school spirit, and we take time to get into every detail.”

That’s why the leadership conference is so valuable. As the host school, Eaglecrest student leaders put a lot of time and effort into planning the day-long event.

“First, we think about what we want kids to get out of the conference,” said EHS senior and conference co-leader Sydney Crouthers. Then they plan activities, invite guest speakers, and develop breakout sessions where students can share ideas, information, problems, and solutions.

Centennial League Leadership Conference The day started in the gym with introductions and icebreakers, followed by a high-energy, pep rally of sorts. The participants practiced cheers and chants designed to fire up a crowd, showed off their best moves in a hilarious dance contest, and learned group games that resulted in lots of smiles and laughter.

Centennial League Leadership Conference Then the group moved to the auditorium, where they were welcomed by EHS Principal Gwen Hansen-Vigil, and heard from Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, and Rashaan Davis, a member of the Colorado High School Activities Association. Keynote speaker Dr. Laymon Hicks shared his powerful story of going from a troubled teenager to graduating from high school graduate with a 4.0-grade point average, to earning a doctorate by the age of 29. He challenged the students to do their best and be their best.

The theme of the conference was “How sweet it is to be a leader!” and the breakout sessions included “Sugar Rush: Sweeten your (school) spirit;” “CandyCRUSHing communication;” “Sugar-coated: Speak your truth and know your why;” and “Jawbreaker: Hard conversations around equity in our schools.”

By the end of the day, some 250 high school leaders were energized and exhausted, but also empowered by new ideas from new friends.

“It’s really fun to be here,” said Andrea Morales, a junior at Overland High School. “I get to be a part of my school community and get to know other schools as well.”

Posted 3/25/2024.