By Colleen Chasteau’15
Tackling the difficult issues of teen school life was the main goal of the United Network of Student Leadership (UNSL) Conference on May 9, 2014 at the CSI building of the University of Staten Island. This conference allowed middle school and high school student representatives from various schools to think critically, speak up, and socialize with others while sharing ideas on trends seen in schools.
Ms. Marcia Kaufman, one of the supervisors of the event, said this conference was beneficial to students because they addressed issues that aren’t really acknowledged in a school environment. Themes of each workshop ranged from self-acceptance to accepting others to fitness. According to Ms. Kaufman, since the first conference about four years ago these conferences have been developing more and more each time.
“Since the first conference, this event has been stronger than ever,” said Ms. Kaufman.
Ms. Kaufman personally selected representatives. She chose students whom she believed displayed leadership skills and a passion for wanting to make a change in school life. These representatives attend monthly meetings to discuss different ways to improve schools. Only a handful of these students are chosen to represent UNSL. This year, five Midwood students were chosen to represent the UNSL and 25 students from Midwood went to the conference.
Dominique Krol ’15, one of the five selected, participated in the conference last year and was impressed by the level of maturity and leadership students displayed as they took over their workshops. This year, it was her turn to display her leadership skills.
“I’m honored that I was chosen to represent my school,” said Krol. “Now I get to represent not only Midwood but UNSL itself!”
Representatives of the conference led school- assigned workshops. These workshops are designed to help students cope with various school issues in healthy, productive ways. This year, Midwood’s workshop was based on the issue of how people in society view each other and ways these views can be changed through realizing similarities rather than differences.
“These workshops help students see the positive parts and strengths of their school,” said Dominique, “It’s also a way of communication between kids from different schools.”
In addition to the workshops, representatives and attendees met senators, witnessed live performances from school chorii, participated in icebreakers and much more. This event was designed to unite students and open students up to ideas and interactions that they wouldn’t necessarily encounter in school.
“The UNSL conference can provide students with a chance to interact with kids from other schools and learn interesting and fun facts about other schools,” said Representative Leonidas Eracleous. “It is definitely an experience worth trying.”
The UNSL conference broadened horizons and improved schools by reaching out to the most important source, the students.
By Colleen Chasteau’15