Tri-County Student Group To Hold Leadership Workshop

OCEAN CITY – A group of student leaders from the tri-county area will be in Ocean City next week for their annual Overnight Leadership Workshop (OLW).

The workshop is one of four annual gatherings this year hosted by the Southern Eastern Shore Association of Student Councils (SESASC) and will draw more than 100 Student Government Association (SGA) members and student leaders from Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties.

Makayla Zajdel, public relations chair and sophomore at Stephen Decatur High School (SDHS), said this year’s workshop theme is “Respect” and teaches students skills needed to be a respectable member and leader in the community.

For example, students this year will partake in a beach ball activity that engages a conversation on respect and will go against other groups to fashion respectable professional attire from newspaper and tape.

“Our goal is to help students as they go through school to become better leaders in our community,” she said.

In addition to skill-building activities, Zajdel said officials from Jesse’s Paddle will be in attendance to talk with students and SESASC past president and college student Maury Izzett will be the keynote speaker.

“She will give a talk about how leadership helped her get into college and be a better student,” she said.

The organization reached out to Izzett in mid-November, and Izzett said she was excited to come back.

“The theme of this year’s OLW is ‘Respect’,” she said. “Despite the differences amongst us, respect is the one thing that should always remain the common ground.  Therefore, I will be discussing the meaning of respect, where it can be found in our everyday lives, and how it can be practiced.”

Izzett, a University of Maryland College Park student and SDHS graduate, said the multiple years she spent in SESASC taught her lessons on teamwork, professionalism and diversity.

“I worked with hundreds of different students over my five years in SESASC,” she said. “The organization taught me interpersonal skills, which I still carry with me.  Learning how to work with people, figure out and attain a common goal, and to step up as a leader when needed are all important life skills I gained through SESASC.”

As in years past, the overnight workshop and other assemblies throughout the year will also give student leaders opportunities to connect and discuss potential service projects to implement at their high schools.

“We normally take our ideas back to our school SGA to improve them,” Zajdel said.

In addition to school-led volunteer opportunities, SESASC members coordinate a tri-county service project each year as a way to develop leadership skills and engage with the community. This year, the SESASC will be collecting money for the Maryland Food Bank.

“It spreads the idea of leadership and how to be a leader and spread that idea within your own school,” Zajdel said.

Zajdel said her own involvement in the leadership organization has given her skills that are helpful in leading her church youth group and preparing for college.

“It’s really an amazing group of kids,” Zajdel said.

The SESASC consists of 13 executive board members, who plan and lead general assemblies throughout the school year.

Students who participate in the yearly events are chosen from their SGA advisors.

Students will attend the workshop Feb. 15-16 at the Clarion Resort Hotel and will have the opportunity to connect with other school leaders throughout the region.

“Everything we do is for the community and for future leaders,” she said. “Our goal is to motivate students to want to become strong individual leaders in today’s world. We are completely run by students and we spread leadership throughout everyone that participates in our meetings and workshops.”

This year’s general assembly meetings mark the organization’s 50th anniversary, according to Zajdel. The first assembly of the year kicked off in October and will conclude with elections in April.

“I have enjoyed watching the organization grow, and am looking forward to seeing what OLW has in store for all the SESASC members this year,” Izzett said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.