EL students lead movement

StudConf 097

Following through on a skit suggested by inspirational speaker Derek Felton, sophomore Chris Cook, center, is dressed up as a cow and gets volunteers to join him on the dance floor and within minutes Elk Lake High School’s auditorium was filled with several hundred gyrating students. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER


More than 700 student delegates from more than three dozen schools converged on Elk Lake Wednesday for the annual District IX Student Leadership Conference.

This is the 38th consecutive year that student government representatives have gathered for the informational session, which is organized by the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils.

Yet, it is the first time Elk Lake Area School District has hosted the event.

Decked in a coat and tie, Principal Ken Cuomo said he was actually underdressed and then pulled out a John Deere farmer’s cap to underscore the rural nature of his district and the conference’s theme to ‘Start a Moovement!”

Motivational speaker Derek Felton flew in from Cincinnati to get the youths pumped about their responsibilities as student leaders.

He drew from his own background experience with ordinary folks as well as famous athletes who had inspired him.

Felton suggested that big dreams start with ordinary steps, and then you get others around to think like you and before you know it you just might be able to inspire your school to do some pretty terrific things.

Following an opening assembly, the students had their choice of 19 high school-level and 13 middle school level workshops.

Subject matter included ‘Stomping out Bullying,” “Stress Is a Mess,” and ‘Perks of not Being a Wallflower.”

Logan Garrison and Emma Vasky of Lackawanna Trail led a session on ‘Fantastic Fundraising’ which left students with lots of ideas on how to fund school activities.

The end of the day was a stress reliever for Elk Lake’s Jason Vermeulen who for the past nine months had been planning the day’s activity with co-chair Megan Bush.

Vermeulen carried one other burden and that was shared during the morning’s orientation when he called his girlfriend to the stage to ask if she would go to the prom with him.

She said she would, to thunderous applause of the youths.

Their Elk Lake student council adviser Kristine Smith was recognized as high school student adviser of the year, and Joan Rakowski of Dallas was named Middle School student council adviser of the year.