Tackling issues from hunger to bullying, more than 100 students from area schools attended a conference Tuesday aimed at turning each of them into leaders.
The all-day Youth Summit was the second held this year in Washington County. A third summit is scheduled for next spring.
Students spent the day Tuesday listening to motivational talks and writing reaction, thoughts and goals in journals. Students also discussed issues affecting their schools or communities.
BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
Ben Scragg, of PB&J Consultants, of Columbus, gives a motivational talk to area students Tuesday during a leadership summit sponsored by the Right Path for Washington County.
Marietta High School freshman Stephen Harper, 14, said the event helped him realize how being a leader can affect others.
"One way that was shown was in talking about bullying," Harper said. "We talked about courage and how we could step in if we saw someone being bullied. It's easy to laugh or stand aside, but if you step in, hopefully more will stand up, too."
Abby Baker, 16, a Fort Frye High School junior, said she's in her first year as a member of the school's Family Career Community Leaders of America club. Baker said food and coat drives for needy families in her community are being organized as a result of the meeting Tuesday.
Who was there
Schools that participated in Tuesday's leadership summit:
Wolf Creek, Fort Frye, Belpre, Frontier, Marietta, Warren, Washington County Career Center and St. John Central Grade School.
"At first, it's hard to imagine there's much we can do, but after you start talking you realize there is always something you can do," she said.
Gabby Canterbury, 16, a Waterford High School junior, said she also pledged to hold food drives to help support local food pantries after discussing the issue.
Canterbury said she attended an earlier Youth Summit, which inspired her to try to make a difference in her community.
"Ever since that first conference, I've felt more confident and empowered that I can make a difference," she said. "That's important to me because I want to be an important figure in people's lives. I want to lead and have the confidence to make the right decisions."
Belpre senior Todd Packard, 17, said he liked the emphasis for students to be themselves at the event.
"At school, too many kids aren't their true selves. They try to fit in and it's just not who they really are," he said. "When your true self comes out, a leader comes out ... I believe that and it has helped me become a leader and make some really amazing friends."
Leading the discussions Tuesday was Ben Scragg, of PB&J Consultants. The company specializes in youth leadership workshops and motivational talks.
"We've found that most students have a misconception of what leadership actually is," Scragg said. "Leadership isn't a title or a position. Leadership is behavior and how you show it or display it. Every student is capable of leadership."
During one of Tuesday's sessions, Scragg challenged the students to write a goal for the next year.
"Now, don't stop there," Scragg said. "Write three things that will help you achieve that goal ... This is about where you are and where you are headed."
Organizers collected some of the students' work, with the intention of mailing it to them next year to help remind them to stay on track. The event was held at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Franklin Street in Marietta.
The event was sponsored, in part, by the Right Path for Washington County. Cathy Harper, coordinator of the Right Path and the mother of Stephen Harper, said the event emphasized how one person can affect change.
Harper said the event was paid for in part by a $2,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Drug and Alcohol Addition Services.