Students Protecting Education sponsored the first ever Erie County Student Leaders summit, a dynamic collaborative experience that brings student leaders from around the county together to share ideas and inspire change.
Students from 12 schools across Erie County attended the first annual Erie County Student Leaders Summit
A New Beginning
Will Roberts of Orchard Park High School's STAP Comm and Luke Lippitt of Students Protecting Education got together after an an amazing experience at the 2023 New York State Council on Leadership and Student Activities Leadership Conference with a vision; an idea that they saw potential in. The original thought was to host the president and vice-president of each school in the area to bring local leaders together just like NYS CLSA does on a state level. After much thought and consideration, they decided that it would be best to invite all leaders; not just the presidents and vice-presidents from schools across the county.
This led to weeks and weeks of planning, with a quick turn around of a 1 week between deadline of registration closing and the event itself. It took countless days of meeting at 6:30am in the morning and then right after school for hours; but every last second was worth it.
The Big Day
At 10am, students from across the county began to cycle in as Roberts and Lippitt finalized their strategic set up. Students began by entering and writing their favorite fundraiser, event, and advocacy initiative on a sticky note and putting them on a board. This activity served to get a list of activities that all schools participate in.
We were honored to have had Chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature speak at our event to students about leadership and government. Chairwoman Baskin is a prominent and influential member of the community who has done much for the people of not just her representative district but Erie County as a whole. Baskin serves as a perfect example of what a real and authentic leader looks like.
“Chairwoman Baskin is a great example of the type of leader we all try to be. The way she blazed her own trail to success was something that we were all in awe of" - Will Roberts
Will Roberts met Baskin in 2022 during an emergency fundraiser she organized to provide support to single mothers during the Buffalo Blizzard of 2022. The two re-connected prior to the ECSLS to discuss leadership and the importance of student voices.
We would like to thank the Chairwoman one last time for the inspiration that she shared to our summit of future leaders that will one day be filling the positions and legacy that she will leave behind.
William Roberts (left), Chairwoman April Baskin (middle), Luke Lippitt (right)
An Amazing Group
This year's summit consisted of students from Frontier, Amherst, North Collins, Williamsville South, Orchard Park, Nardin Academy, Lancaster, Eden, Depew, Clarence, and City Honors. We couldn't have asked for a better group, each and every student in the room brought a diverse and valuable voice to the table, and for that we are extremely grateful.
"This group is truly amazing. The diversity in thought, ideas, and opinions brought together has created a perfect forum for change and inspiration. I am really proud of the work my peers across the county have done and the things they have accomplished" - Luke Lippitt
Students were broken up into 2 large groups for discussion, and smaller color groups to collaborate on the icebreaker breakout boxes, which we're created by the Orchard Park High School Librarians. These groups were strategically chosen to bring students from as many different schools together to share a diverse range of experiences. Our 2 discussion sessions went great, with much participation and open dialogue between student leaders.
Thoughts on the Summit
As the first ever Erie County Student Leaders Summit, we we're extremely impressed at how the summit idea, agenda, and schedules were received by the attendees. Hear from the leaders who attended the summit and we're able to connect and share ideas with fellow leaders:
"I am very excited for the future of WNY school leadership after attending the first ever Erie County Student Leaders Summit. The event made student leader collaboration very easy and enjoyable, and I have obtained many new ideas for possible school events and initiatives. I hope this summit continues for the betterment of our county." - Amar Culov, East Aurora
"I had a very enriching experience at the first Erie County Student Leaders Summit, having the opportunity to meet leaders from all over Erie County. I gained a greater understanding of the possibilities of advancing student advocacy as well as the future of student engagement at schools. I am very grateful for the opportunity of attending this summit and I'm looking forward to implementing new strategies at our school." - Charlie Meyer, East Aurora
"I am grateful for the invaluable experience at the Erie County Student Leaders Summit, where I had the chance to connect with local student governance leaders. It was not only an opportunity to share the successes of Clarence High, but, more significantly, to engage in candid discussions about the challenges we face. Learning how other schools have effectively addressed similar issues provided valuable insights. I genuinely hope that the Erie County Student Leaders Summit becomes a lasting tradition, fostering collaboration and idea-sharing among student leaders for years to come." - Louis Mancuso, Clarence
Reflections from the Advisors
Hear from the advisors who helped the ECSLS team put together the first ever summit:
"I am so proud of successful launch of the first The Erie County Student Leaders Summit. It was wonderful to see so many students from across Erie County exchange ideas and share this outstanding experience, which included an inspirational speech by Chairwoman April Baskin. Will and Luke worked hard and put together a top notch program!" - Mrs. Rominger, STAP Comm Advisor
"Seeing student leaders across school districts in Erie County collaborate and speak so openly with one another was truly incredible. Going from conversations about student government to an awe-inspiring speech from Chairwoman April Baskin made me so hopeful and excited for the future. Great job Will and Luke on a successful first year launch of Erie County Student Leader Summit." - Ms. King, STAP Comm Advisor
Will Roberts (left) and Luke Lippitt (right), summit founders & organizers
As we now have the first ever summit under our belts, we at STAP Comm and Students Protecting Education have so much hope for the future of this collaborative experience. This new opportunity opens doors for change beyond just our singular school communities. we are filled with an overwhelming sense of pride and hope.
We have witnessed the power of student voices that we know will reverberate far beyond the walls of this summit. Throughout the day, we delved deep into discussions, shared insights, and forged connections that unite us in a common purpose: to shape the future with our voices and actions.
The world around us is evolving at a rapid pace, presenting us with both unprecedented challenges and boundless opportunities. In the face of this, it is our duty, our responsibility, to rise as leaders and to steer the course of history towards a brighter tomorrow. Each of us has a unique perspective, a distinct voice that has the potential to spark ever lasting change, to challenge norms, and to inspire future generations. It is in this diversity of voices that we achieve our greatest means of leadership.
Thank you, each and every one of you, for your unwavering commitment to making a difference. May your voices continue to make a positive impact in your communities and beyond, lighting the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all. As we face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, may we draw strength from the connections made, the knowledge gained, and the shared commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. Together, let us dare to dream, dare to lead, and dare to transform our communities and our world for the better.
This summit would not have been possible without the help of so many different people. We would like to thank...
Mrs. Rominger, Ms. King, & Mr. Bove - our amazing STAP Comm advisors
Mr. Pafk - our new principle and #1 supporter
Sophia, Ella, Laila, Jimmy, & Shane - our STAP Comm friends and Summit aids
Chairwoman April Baskin - our speaker
Mrs. Godios & Mrs. DiLucente - our OPHS librarians
Jillian Yarnes - Director of Operations of SPE