CHS students attend Student Leadership Academy at CASB Conference

Courtesy photo Six Center High School students and a teacher attended the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) Conference in December of 2023 and participated in the Student Leadership Academy. The six students who were chosen to attend were Isis Soto, a sophomore, Leilany Soto, a sophomore, Selah Harrington, a senior, Devannie Nunez, a junior, Ahyari Fimbres, a junior, and Elijah Swanson, a sophomore and their teacher Hanna Hays.

CENTER — Six Center High School students were chosen from the Center School District to participate in the Student Leadership Academy while attending the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) Conference in Colorado Springs in December of 2023.

The students had to submit an application to attend. The six students who were chosen to attend were Isis Soto, a sophomore, Leilany Soto, a sophomore, Selah Harrington, a senior, Devannie Nunez, a junior, Ahyari Fimbres, a junior, and Elijah Swanson, a sophomore.

The conference kicked off on Dec. 7, and ran through Dec. 9 at The Broadmoor, with the academy taking place Dec. 8 and 9. The academy is targeted to help students become leaders, by mixing students from various high schools and speaking with them about what is effectively working to keep students in school, what works to help behavioral issues, what works to help children socialize better, what helps with growth, what helps students become leaders, stay safe, healthy, active, what helps students stay on their agenda, and what helps students thrive in school.

There are speakers that attend the conference to talk with students.

The CHS students attended the conference along with teacher Hanna Hays. Of the six students, five students spoke with this reporter about how the academy had gone for them and how they feel that they are currently implementing strategies that they learned at the conference to help with leadership skills. Leilany Soto was unavailable for the interview.

Isis Soto said, “We got to experience what other schools are like and what they do to make their students more engaged in learning. It made me feel like we don’t do as much as they do in their schools, with opportunities for college. The other schools seem to have more opportunities for college and different things. Now that we know about that, we can talk about how we can also have those opportunities here and help our school with those opportunities, too.”

Harrington said, “I actually started planning and then had to attend Zoom meetings every other week, beginning in January of last year, through December. What I experienced was I led my group, it was about 10 or 15 kids.”

Harrington said her group included kids from Salida, Buena Vista, Limon, and Cherry Creek.

“It was really cool because I got to spark an idea to some of the kids in my group,” she said. “I remember I had a kid in my group that was quiet and soft spoken. After the second workshop we held in the group I remember that kid was so excited, I saw the lightbulb go off in him. I remember him saying that he was going to talk to his school, and he was excited about being the leader and getting things to start moving forward in his school. It was so cool to see it happen in front of me, where he felt like the leader himself. I also like being the student, but being the leader and helping him, was so cool too.”

Nunez said, “What I noticed when we went to the CASB meeting, is when we got back, we came back ready to put all these new ideas into our school. We all just wanted some change based off what we learned out there. We also wanted other students to notice that we wanted this, and we wanted them to feel motivated. We gathered new ideas, then we talked to each other about it all when we got back. When we came back, all of us stayed consistent in bringing good changes to our school based off what we learned out there.”

Fimbres said, “One thing I really liked about CASB was the group I got to be a part of. I feel like they inspired me in a different way. We all came from different backgrounds in that group. By being separated from the other students in our school, I feel like we were able to learn some leadership skills and gain confidence, because we were able to talk to all these students from different schools, and bigger schools too. They had little schools like our school, but also huge, huge schools. What I really liked was listening to everyone else, getting inspired by their ideas, and then creating our own ideas, for our school.”

Fimbres said that the Center School District Superintendent Carrie Zimmerman was willing to listen to all the new ideas that they brought back and was consistent about helping them implement the new ideas into the school system.

“We got back and right away started making positive changes,” Fimbres said.

Swanson said, “CASB was really fun. It was neat getting to meet people from different schools, especially schools with huge populations. One of the major issues that every single school talked about was student involvement. I think honestly ever since the pandemic occurred, that has been a major issue. What we are doing right now is a student merit competition. We got the idea from CASB. We want to try to engage students to get better grades and have better behavior, and attendance and tardies. I think that will really get things coming together better here. One thing the other schools do is weekly class trips if students get to a certain number of points. We are doing that here too. We also introduced a new phone rule to our District Policy, so eventually students will be less on their phones also. Now it’s kind of off and on because people do have to adapt to change over time. Right now, the policy is once you walk into the classroom, the phone has to be put away. If you don’t do that, you do get written up. So, students don’t have a choice, but to put their phones up.”

All students stated they would enjoy attending the conference again.

For more information on CASB, visit CASB.org.