Erwin students attend state conference

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2016

By Elliott Mathis 

Erwin Middle School

MARS HILL — On July 11, 230 students and 40 advisers arrived at Mars Hill University to participate in the 57th North Carolina Association of Student Councils (NCASC) Summer Leadership Workshop. There were greeted by a staff of 50 junior and senior counselors who would be their teachers, guides, confidants and friends for the week.

This was the 35th year that Erwin Middle School students have attended the workshop. The Erwin delegates included Bryson Loflin, Madison Cain, Kyla Butler, Caleb Wagoner, Brooklyn Mabe, Trevis Byrd, Landon Mayhew and their adviser, Sarah Wise. East Rowan sophomore Stephen Deutsch was also with the group. The Erwin delegation workshop experience actually began on July 9. They arrived at Mars Hill with Colby Cochran, the NCASC executive director and workshop director.

The purpose for coming early was to prepare for the arrival of the workshop staff on Sunday and the delegates on Monday. The Erwin team spent Saturday putting together workbooks, sorting and counting materials, refurbishing supply boxes, setting out council flags and workshop pennants, putting name plates on all the dorm rooms and decorating the stage. These tasks were all accomplished by the time the delegates arrived on Monday afternoon.

The workshop delegates were divided into councils groups. The councils worked with two junior counselors and an adult council sponsor. During the week councils met daily to develop leadership skills and work on group tasks. These tasks included the election of council officers, making banquet decorations, and creating a council presentation for the closing night reflections program. Each morning began with a general session led by the workshop consultants Chris Seifert and Andy Costanzo. Seifert and Constanzo are active in the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils and serve as directors for the state’s Summer Leadership Camps.

General session topics included cooperation, goal setting, motivation and inclusion. In the evening, staff and delegates were involved in a variety of activities, all with leadership lessons to teach. The second night, students participated in boundary breaking, providing a way for them to learn more about each other. This was followed by a good old-fashioned folk dance.

Trey Ferguson, co-founder of the Beginning Teacher Network wrote, “The organization’s executive director, Colby Cochran cuts a rug with students and summarizes the dance as yet another way to get to know one another, but also how you must learn to lead and follow (on and off the dance floor). The third night, students are split between four groups in an Olympic event. Teams face challenging, easy-to-make games scored on timed completion and crowd sportsmanship. This reinforces the importance of positivity, even in competition, and gives students demonstrations of games they could play with their home councils.”

The NCASC workshop provided real leadership experiences for its participants. Student organizations like student council foster qualities and skills that not only enhance the educational process, but are necessary for future success in the field of a studentʼs choice. These events are not extracurricular, but rather co-curricular. The NCASC is the official organization for middle and high school student councils in North Carolina. It holds district conferences, work days and a state convention each year. Its aim is to provide opportunities to enhance student leadership development and adviser training. More information about the association can be found on its website: