Student Council leadership conference begins at Central

Friday, March 15, 2002

A three-day leadership conference kicked off Thursday night like a bucking bronco as students from all over the state were treated to Southeast Missouri hospitality.

"A Leadership Thang with a Southeast Twang," is the slogan adopted by Cape Central, the host of the Missouri Association of Student Councils. It's the first time in 10 years that Central has been the host of the conference.

Local students and volunteers have transformed the school into a state fair atmosphere, complete with hay bales and a mechanical bull. Cape students are also dressing the part, donning denims or overalls, cowboy hats and boots.

Student council co-president Nathan Foley said he and his fellow students have been working all year raising money and planning for the event.

If the grand opening had occurred during their parents' generation it might have been called a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll.

But as some 1,100 students gyrated to hip hop and stomped their feet to bluegrass fiddlers, the mood at Central High School Thursday might have been better described as a funky hoedown political rally.

One minute Foley and co-president Jessica Layman are riding into the gymnasium on horseback to open the show, then a coed dance team was shimmying and shaking to a medley of pop tunes.

Principal is 'blessed'

In welcoming the students, Cape Central principal Mike Cowan declared himself "without a doubt the most truly blessed high school principal in the state of Missouri."

He encouraged student leaders to master "the artistry of genuine service to others."

Keynote performer Mike Dumey said, "In a time when people like to chuck responsibility ... I see the future before me and it is in awesome hands."

In between educational sessions over the weekend, students from a variety of schools vie to make sure their school is the next host for the party.

They began arriving at 4 p.m., meeting host families and starting campaigns early, broadcasting their schools as the best.

It was New Madrid senior Mark Wade's first time at a MASC conference.

"This is great," he said. "I'm meeting tons of new people and having fun."

It was the second conference for Wade's friend Chris Bates, a junior at Portageville High School.

Events continue today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the high school and continue at 6 p.m. with a banquet and dance at the Show-Me Center.

The conference ends midmorning Saturday.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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