What do the Future Farmers of America, SkillsUSA and DECA have in common? All of these high school organizations encourage the development of leadership skills among participating students.
At the Jan. 15 Harrisonville School Board meeting, the development of one such skill – public speaking – was apparent, as six students took the podium to tell board members just what makes their groups so innovative and rewarding. Dressed professionally and approaching the microphone with a quiet confidence, each student took turns speaking to the audience with poise and passion about their respective groups.
Honored for student recognition awards at the meeting were: Mattie Moore, FFA chapter president; Jack McCleave, area FFA president; Kevin Burkes and Sophie Puryear, co-presidents of SkillsUSA; Savannah Osborn, DECA president; and Hannah Yowell, DECA communications chair.
Kicking off the discussion, Moore, who plans on majoring in ad communications next year in college, chronicled the many activities and contests FFA attends/puts on throughout the year that enable students to gain leadership skills and give back to the community. McCleave followed this presentation up with an overview of the installation of officers and training procedures. He also highlighted an area barn-warming event that hosted more than 17 schools and drew more than 300 people to Harrisonville.
“We also recently took our first officers to a conference at UCM that was designed to get members engaged and propel them into successful futures,” he said. “That was a great experience.”
DECA has taught her to be a leader, noted Osborn, of the association made up of marketing students who have an interest in furthering their education in this field.
“As a freshman, there would have been no way I could have stood up and spoke in front of you guys,” she said. “Now I'm doing things I never thought possible. As president of DECA, I have learned to become a better person and make sure I am ready for a future career.”
President of the AM block of SkillsUSA, Burkes expressed his gratitude for having the opportunity for this type of hands-on experience at the Cass County Career Center.
“We get to go to different leadership programs where we learn how to trust our partners,” he said. “It makes us go out of our comfort zone, just like speaking to you all tonight does. It has just been an amazing experience for me.”
During her many years at the high school, board member Marie Vallee said she has seen so many kids come out of these programs who not only were active in leadership roles at school but also continue to give back to the community.
“You all have a great opportunity to become better leaders, and you're obviously up for the challenge,” she said. “That is what the career center does for us and for our community. We are very proud of you.”
In addition to the student honors, the board recognized Nichole Tews, a finalist for the Missouri Teacher of the Year, for outstanding achievement.
In other business, the board unanimously voted to extend the district’s environmental consulting services contract with Aramark, a firm it has worked with for more than 20 years.