Antigonish and St. F.X. will, once again, play host to “the largest gathering of student leaders in the province,” during the Nova Scotia Secondary School Association (NSSSA) provincial conference.
Being held May 16 to 19, the conference is titled, succinctly, Synergy 2019.
“While the province struggles to retain youth, one organization run solely by students is a training ground for high school students to become Nova Scotia’s next CEOs, business owners, and other leadership positions in the province,” a release from St. F.X., regarding their role as conference host, stated.
“NSSSA recently opened registration to any student in Grades 9 to 12 in Nova Scotia high schools for the conference to be held in May. St. F.X. President Kent MacDonald says the university is proud to be a partner with the student-led NSSSA, and is delighted for St. F.X. to be the home for the conference and play a supporting role to high school student leaders as they learn and build new skills.”
Co-chairs of the organizing committee for the conference are Alex LeBlanc, who attends St. F.X., and Mary Stackaruk, a St. Mary’s University student.
“Most things are in play; we have, pretty much, all of our sponsors and keynote speakers confirmed. Our committee is doing really well in the preparation and planning of everything,” LeBlanc said.
“Our committee has been really hard at work and are looking forward to sharing with everybody who attends,” Stackaruk said.
“Each person on our committee has an individual role and although they do crossover, everyone contributes equally. Everyone on our committee has shown great synergy; they have come together to create something great. We really hope to show that this year.”
Stackaruk using the word ‘synergy’ was not a coincidence. She talked more about the title of this year’s conference.
“We’re really proud of the title of the conference; we feel like it’s the very first time the title has a meaning behind it,” she said, noting, in the past, the title was often just another acronym to go along with NSSSA.
“It’s similar to what it means in society; the sum of the parts are greater than one single piece. As everyone comes together, the work that can be accomplished as a group is much greater than what one person can accomplish individually.
“It’s thinking about the teamwork factor; how important it is and really emphasizing that.”
LeBlanc noted ‘synergy’ is not only the title, but the theme.
“How great leadership means creating something bigger than yourself, whether it be a company or a movement or whatever you want to achieve,” he said.
The first-year university students talked about moving up the ranks in the NSSSA organization to their current roles, and what they would say to encourage a young high school student to join NSSSA.
“I really value the atmosphere it provides for students,” LeBlanc said.
“Everyone gets something different out of it. For people who may not be as expressive or outgoing as they want to be, it’s something that really helps them break out of their shell, meet people who are similar to them, and, I guess, form a community of people to show them support and help them chase their dreams.
“And for people who are already on their way to success, it kind of builds up their skills and helps them further themselves as leaders, and human beings in general. It’s a structure of people, accepting and supportive, building each other up.”
Stackaruk words of encouragement used the conference as a motivation to becoming part of NSSSA.
“I would tell that person it’s not only a great place to meet similar-minded people, but people who are here to inspire you,” she said.
“It’s not your typical leadership conference; it’s student led so, basically, we are trying to empower those students to reach their full potential. Through some obscure activities, we bring students out of their comfort zones and help them form life-long friendships.
“That is the beauty of the provincial conference; you can meet students from all over the province so you can really get some networking done. It’s just a really great place to find yourself.”
For more on the conference, including how to register before the deadline of April 20, visit the NSSSA website at nsssa.ca.