By Cara Pattison
Students in the Yukon High School Student Council organization will learn to host a large conference over the course of a year, as the Oklahoma Association of Student Councils’ 2020 State Convention will convene on their campus Nov. 7-9, 2020.
With a sprawling campus and some of the best facilities in the state, more than 3,000 Student Council delegates and their advisors from over 200 Oklahoma schools will convene at the secondary school.
YHS hosted the OASC conference back in 2015 and are excited to be selected again.
YHS Stu-Co and Leadership advisor Darryl Andrews believes Yukon is the perfect location for the large conference.
“We have a huge student council group in Yukon, with 110 students – 30 on the executive board and 80 at-large members that participate outside of classes,” Andrews said. “At past OASC conferences, we always have the largest attendance. With large facilities, community and administrator support, and an active student base, Yukon is the perfect place for this large annual conference.”
Having such a large group and wanting to use a hands-on teaching approach, Andrews is placing the responsibility for the success of the event in the hands of his students.
The OASC Conference will be organized and implemented entirely by committees of YHS students in grades 9-12 under the careful guidance of Andrews and YHS junior Ella Stanley, the current OASC state secretary.
“When you can host a large event like this, it’s an excellent student learning opportunity,” Andrews said. “The kids have set-up committees and are learning to delegate, meet deadlines, work as a team, and interact with adults and businesses across the state.”
To kick-off the accountability approach, the Stu-Co’s first major task was to come up with a theme for the event, and Andrews made it into a memorable learning opportunity.
Last September, Andrews and Stanley invited any Yukon student that wanted to come and present ideas.
The pair helped narrow 112 ideas for a theme down to one winner after a 10 and-a-half hour discussion using a unique business model approach.
“We used the Apple ‘consensus’ think-tank approach to decision making,” Andrews said. “It was a long process and a long day, but it worked. It was very rewarding to see them own their theme after 10 and-a-half hours. The group had to look at all aspects of each of the 112 ideas presented.
“We only looked at the positives of each idea, and students weren’t allowed to be negative or throw out ideas without positive discussion. Think tanks are the movers and shakers of the business world, and I wanted my students to experience this in a real-life application.”
The winning slogan centers around a Hawaiian theme, where “OASC means OHANA and OHANA means family,” Stanley said. “This OASC group networks and bonds at these conferences, and we wanted a theme that highlights this idea. We want people to arrive as strangers and leave as friends.”
WORKING ON THE AGENDA
In addition to a Hawaiian-themed marketing plan, Stanley and her committees are working on the three-day agenda.
Each day of the conference there will be general sessions, break-out sessions, an exhibit hall for businesses and schools to set-up displays, student-led workshops, and campaign schools for candidates to learn to campaign.
Organizers also are looking into some fun games and activities – such as inflatables, zip lines, arts and crafts, student mixers, a luau, and one night they will be reserving Frontier City theme park.
Stanley said they will have community service break-out sessions centering around World War II veterans, where they plan to set-up the opportunity for attendees to work with a local agency to pack boxes for veterans or make blankets for caregivers.
At the session, students can share their school’s best philanthropy practices.
“Today, kids connect with each other thumb-to-thumb using technology,” Andrews said. “We want this event to get them face-to-face. Leadership develops through connections and relationships. Anyone can be a leader with connections and relationships.
“This is the basis of what I teach here, and it lends itself to both my students’ organizing this event and also getting people at the conference to interact with each other.”
In addition to being proud to get students connecting and developing relationships, Yukon’s longtime Student Council advisor and his students are proud that the event will help fill local tax coffers, as well.
“It’s always exciting for students to know that they are playing a part in bringing money into our community,” Andrews said. “We discussed how it may cause some issues with regards to traffic and longer lines at establishments, but the positive is that the event will bring in tax dollars locally from restaurant, retail and hotel sales.”
All students in attendance that have a 40-minute or longer commute to Yukon are expected to stay in local hotels. Andrews’ student committees have been in contact with local hotels and are learning to set-up blocks of rooms.
Also, they plan to notify local restaurants about the influx of business during the conference and will share hotel and restaurant information with attendees online.
After the conference has ended and friendships have been made, Stanley believes that YHS Stu-Co members will be left with a lot more than just memories. They will also be left with the pride of a job well done on a major project.
“This is a distinct honor because it’s not a thing a lot of schools have the ability to do,” she said. “We can provide space for friendships, learning, relationship building, and networking. I am thankful to have a teacher that gives us this opportunity to learn together as we serve others together.”