OSKALOOSA — The National Student Council Conference is an amazing opportunity for student council members and advisers to meet with peers from all over the country and enhance their leadership skills.
Kim Gile, a teacher at Oskaloosa High School and the leader of Oskaloosa Student Council has been taking Oskaloosa Student Council members to The National Student Council Conference for seven years now.
This year, Gile took 10 students from the Oskaloosa Student Council to McDonald, Pennsylvania for the 2019 National Student Council Conference at South Fayette High School.
At this conference, there were schools from 38 different states plus Puerto Rico.
Gile thinks it's important to go to the National Student Council Conference because its a great way to learn about leadership.
“I think its a great time for students to idea share and get leadership experiences and they learn about community service," she said. "They get to listen to some amazing keynote speakers that they bring in to teach them how to deal with leadership and things going on in their lives.”
She believes this impacts Osky Student Council because the kids that go on this trip learn about leadership and other skills and get to bring back what they learn and share it with the rest of the Osky Student Council that didn’t go.
“They teach them things they learned there and apply what they learned there to our council here,” she said.
Gile and the students stayed very busy on this trip.
They arrived in Pennsylvania Sunday afternoon and the first thing they did was go to a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. When the game finished they went to the Carnegie Science Center where they did vertical jump testing, rope climbing, zip-lining, and learned a lot about science and anatomy.
On Monday morning they were picked up from their hotel at 7:30 a.m. and got to the school about 8:30 a.m. When they arrived at the school they went to their staterooms and had two guides from Pennsylvania, who gave the students their backpacks and told them everything that was going to go on.
Then they went to a general session where there was a keynote speaker.
“The speaker was Keith Hawkins who was a wonderful speaker for students,” Gile said.
The rest of the day they had sessions where they could pick and choose what sessions they wanted to go to and what they wanted to learn about. They didn’t get back to their hotel until about 10 that night.
Gile said both Monday and Tuesday were very long days.
On Tuesday they did the same things, but also made blankets as a "huge community project where they all made blankets for hospitals there in Pennsylvania,” Gile said.
On Wednesday morning activities continued but were done by about noon. They flew back that night and landed in Des Moine at about 10:30 p.m.
Gile recommends younger students join student council.
“It's a great way for students to meet students of other grades where they wouldn’t normally be in class with each other. They develop friendships, like a freshman and a senior, could be friends,” she said. “We have athletes, we have drama students, we have just everybody in student council, it's not just one main group and they all bond and become like a family. They all take care of each other and they like to do what's best for the school, they like to learn about leadership, and they like to provide fun things for the school to do.”
The Herald was able to catch up with a few students that went on this trip.
Some of the students that were available to visit were Emmit Boender, Sullivan Tighe, and Brayden VanKampen. All three are going to be seniors at Oskaloosa.
Boender is on the executive board and is a district officer for the southeast district in Iowa. This was his second time going to a National Student Council Conference. Last year he attended the one in Minnesota.
Tighe is also on the executive board and also attended the NSCC in Minnesota last year.
VanKampen, on the other hand, has not been to an NSCC before this one.
When asked why they went on this trip Tighe said, “I went to nationals in Minnesota last year and I had a fun time doing it so I thought I would go back again to meet some new people and learn some more things to help the council.”
Boender was similar to Tighe.
“I also wanted to go back. I went last year and I am also a district officer for the southeast district in Iowa so I wanted to bring back new things to the district board.”
VanKampen said, “I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more and learn how to become a better leader and broaden my horizon on what I know.”
On this trip, he learned a lot from the keynote speakers.
“A lot of the keynote speakers told us to just be ourselves and not let other people throw us away from what we believe in and try to express our feelings and try to lead others,” he said.
Tighe said his favorite part of the trip was meeting all of the people from different states, making relationships that will last long past high school and just learning more about leadership and how to help the school and community.
Boender's favorite part was listening to the keynote speakers and what they all took away from each individual one of them.
VanKampen said his favorite part was the speakers and the relationships he made with people he didn’t know along the way.
“They speakers brought up some really good points where I can improve in my life and just try to help other people,” he said.
Boender thinks this impacts Osky student council because of the things they can bring back.
“I think we can definitely find stuff to bring back to our council and apply it to our own council. Since Sullivan and I are on the executive board we definitely have more – I don’t want to say power – but we have more leadership than some people and we can definitely improve our council.”
Tighe said, “ With 11 of us going, that just leads to more leaders knowing how to lead and what makes a good leader make things happen efficiently and effectively.”
VanKampen said, “With all the sessions they had, with all the people we brought, there's a lot of different ways people learn and different concepts we learn that we can bring back to try and improve as a council.
All three students really recommended younger students to join student council.
Tighe said student council is a great way to be apart of the school.
“You get to be involved with all of the events that go on," he said. "It's also a fun thing to build relationships and have a good time doing it.”
Boender said “if they join student council they would be able to voice how they feel and put others in a position to succeed."
VanKampen said, “Student council is just a great place to help your school, help your community, bond with others and having a good time.”
All three students thanked Gile for taking them on this trip and for everything she does for the school and community.
The Oskaloosa Student Council was awarded the National Gold Council of Excellence for the fifth year in a row.