Interhigh Leadership Conference

Student leaders pose together after attending a half day leadership conference

On Jan. 11, the Seattle Public Schools area had its first ever Interhigh leadership conference, hosted right here at Hale. Seniors Denait Fisshazion, Precious Anetipa, and Olivia Mirascian organized this conference as their Hale Action Project after attending an annual conference held in Marysville every February.

“It’s a conference where we invite all Seattle public and private schools to attend and to talk about how to bring unity and diversity into leadership and into schools, but we’re also going to be having fun playing games, basically like a pep rally,” Fisshazion said.

The first conference was started by Scott Krenz, owner of Josten’s, a graduation apparel company, 26 years ago at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

“The very first one came from a leadership class, there were student leaders and I just started bringing in guest speakers in student leadership classes, and pretty soon we thought we should get more classes together,” Krenz said.

This idea planted the seeds for a tradition that later grew, as more and more schools were invited to attend.

The overall goal of the conference was to create collaboration between leadership classes of different schools and spread the message of wanting more diversity in leadership positions in the Seattle Public Schools.

“My goal is to make people aware of situations that are happening in our society, and how we can come together and unite,” Anetipa said.

With many large and complex moving parts, and people coming together from different places, setting up the event was difficult.

“It was a lot of work finding time to do it, since we also have college apps and school.

Since its our first ever, we’re creating the schedule and events, and we don’t have anyone to go to,” Fisshazion said.

The conference started out with an introduction of all the leadership classes that attended. Nathan Hale, Roosevelt, Ingraham, Chief Sealth, Garfield, and University Prep all had representatives at the conference. However, instead of formal introductions, they came in the form of karaoke. All the schools took turns leading the group in a lip sync, with a variety of hip hop and R&B songs.

There was a mix of interactive activities, like the presentation of the cheers at different schools, a Kahoot game about the history of Seattle with over 100 participants, and a dance battle that brought all of the students from the bleachers onto the gym floor. In between all the fun and games, guest and student speakers spoke out about the importance of diversity and the problems that affect us all in Seattle.

One guest speaker spoke about his relationship with his wife, who is Mexican, and how their marriage brought her culture into his life and changed it for the better. Others spoke about what it means to be leaders even outside of leadership positions, and the importance of it.

Along with the positivity in the atmosphere, there was a discussion of the problems that keep schools and classrooms from being diverse. All of the schools sat in the bleachers and each shared issues that were present at their own schools. Some of the biggest issues were microaggressions, social media hate pages, separation between cultural groups, lack of minorities, and shortage of cultural awareness.

To end the assembly, all of the classes were split up into smaller groups where they shared how their schools handled spirit days, assemblies, and events, but more importantly why they valued diversity.

“It really helps to make everyone feel represented and I think it’s a huge thing that a lot of schools struggle with. Especially Roosevelt too, so we’re working on things for [Martin Luther King] week to get people talking and to take strides forwards in diversity,” Roosevelt associated student body President Nate Koidahl said.

Photo By: Johnny Zhao


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