Every year, hundreds of students from all over the Queen Creek Unified School District (QCUSD) gather for the Lead Out Loud (LOL) conference.
Lead Out Loud is an organization unique to QCUSD. It was designed to give select students opportunities to develop leadership skills where they may not have been able to otherwise.
Students who demonstrate leadership skills among their peers, but who are not actively involved in any other leadership roles such as student council, are nominated by teachers and administrators to join LOL.
To kick off the annual conference, new and returning LOL students come together to hear from guest speakers, work on service projects and collaborate with fellow students.
Crismon High School student Carson P. attended the conference for the first time and enjoyed interacting with other students. He participated in a dance-off and included the whole LOL group to do the great tradition of the crowd wave.
“I feel like with LOL, there is a relief of ‘hey, you’re not alone,'" said Carson. “There’s a big group helping you through school, and LOL can help with anyone who’s struggling.”
At this year's conference, professional wrestler Anthony Robles was the guest speaker. He spoke of his life overcoming the trials of being born with one leg and eventually becoming a professional wrestler and a Nike athlete.
“Through trials and hardships, both on and off the wrestling mat, I finished as a three-time All-American and the 2011 NCAA National Champion,” said Robles. “Although my competition days on the mat are over, I will continue to wrestle the opponents that life brings my way, all the while believing that I am unstoppable.”
After hearing from Robles, students broke out into groups to work on service projects, making encouraging posters for their school, cards for a local organization, and organizing treat bags for kids in need.
Newell Barney Junior High AVID teacher Erika Donovan has been to every LOL conference that the district has had and says this event helps create confidence in students who are typically quiet and shy.
“The focus is to take the kids who are not outgoing and to help draw the leader out in them,” said Donovan. “Just seeing students go in their confidence and their involvement in school has been one of the most beneficial things of this conference.”
LOL students will continue with leadership development through mentorships, participatory budgeting and volunteer projects.
If interested in volunteering with QCUSD, be sure to mark your calendar for Love Our Schools Day on Saturday, Oct. 21. See how parents and students came together last year to beautify their schools through acts of service.