DARKE COUNTY - Thursday marked the 2014 Darke County Student Leadership Conference, where former New England Patriot and Founder of the Light Foundation Matt Light was featured as the conference’s keynote speaker.
Around 90 students participated in the event, which included Greenville, Tri-Village, Bradford and Franklin Monroe school districts, and ranged from freshmen to senior students.
“I think the kids really enjoyed today. I think they had to overcome some obstacles and adversity today throughout these activities, so I think it was really good for them,” said Greenville High School Student Council Advisor Carol Paul..
Students were chosen from a variety of clubs within their schools, including student council, FFA, National Honor Society, athletic organizations and many others.
During Light’s address, he began by defining leadership as the continual process of working hard, making the right ethical choices and taking pride in your accomplishments yet staying humble.
But it could be boiled down even more, he said.
“It’s nothing more than doing the right thing as often as you can, as well as you can, as hard as you can,” said Light. “That simple concept will serve you really well for the rest of your lives.”
Light spoke about his own experiences in high school, college and through his NFL career, where he learned from others around him and made a conscious effort to improve while staying positive.
In order to maintain a leadership role, he also emphasized the need to go above and beyond peers in both personal effort and dedication.
“I remember when I was younger, I thought leaders had it great. I couldn’t wait to be the boss. Until I realized that bosses are doing more work than anybody else,” said Light. “And the boss carries all the weight. They never leave work at home.”
Ultimately though, if you’re committed to your goals and willing to keep your nose to the ground, your personal success is inevitable, said Light.
“Never worry about the big things. As long as you’re doing all those little things, the big things will work out for you.”
Terry Clark, Bear’s Mill’s Master Miller, and Nick Shuckman, Programs Director at The Light Foundation, also spoke to the students about finding your own settle as a leader, because one size doesn’t fit all.
The entire day took place at Chenoweth Trails where several stations were setup to teach team-building exercises.
Many of the exercises challenged the students in unorthodox ways, which sometimes required them to give complicated non-verbal commands in order to achieve specific goals.
“We got to do a lot of different activities with kids not only from our own school, but from around the county,” said Greenville Senior Cole Ward. “I really got a lot out of working with these other kids and learning to go out of my comfort zone a little bit.”
“No matter what they do in life, as long as they do the best they can do and overcome adversity, they’re going to be great leaders,” said Paul.
And throughout the course of the day, many of the students went home with some new perspective on their long term goals and high school careers.
“I think I learned a lot today, and I think it will help in a lot of other areas like sports,” said Bradford Sophomore Drew Patty. “It really helped us build our leadership and communication skills.”