Fifty high-school students from Southern Maryland came to St. Mary’s College of Maryland in June for the second Southern Maryland Youth Leadership Conference, an initiative to help promote leadership qualities in the area’s teens.

During the four-day conference, students participated in leadership training in the areas of ethics, government, and communications. Activities included an ethics workshop, leadership game, and brainstorming sessions for planning and presenting projects to benefit the community.  Groups of students worked together on presentations ranging from school climate and teen wellness to domestic violence and homelessness.  Each group gave its presentation on the last night of the conference to an audience made up of parents and family members.

A featured guest speaker at the conference was Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes, from Silver Spring, Maryland. In her speech, Dawes encouraged students to envision their success: write down their goals, build relationships, and overcome setbacks. Pete Mahon of Charles County Public Schools conducted workshops on True Colors, a dynamic personality assessment tool for building better communications and providing insight into career choices. Representatives from the Calvert Crusade for Children conducted a session on developmental assets, focusing on the internal assets that identify characteristics and behaviors that reflect positive internal growth and development of young people. The goal of this session was to teach young people to make thoughtful and positive choices to be better prepared for situations in life that challenge their inner strength and confidence.

Other speakers were Dr. Michael Martirano, superintendent of St. Mary’s County Public Schools; Maryland Delegate Michael Vaughn of Prince George’s County; motivational speaker Wardell Swann; Col. Tim Hutchins, superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Dr. Patrick Allen, chair of the Social Science, Human Services, and Teacher Education Department at the College of Southern Maryland.

The Youth Leadership Conference was organized and funded by American Association of University Women; Calvert County Chamber of Commerce; Calvert County Department of Juvenile Services; Calvert County Public Schools; Charles County Chamber of Commerce; Charles County Public Schools; College of Southern Maryland; Concerned Black Women of Calvert County; Lord and Tucker Management Consultants; Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative; Southern Maryland WorkSource; St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce; St. Mary’s County Public Schools; St. Mary’s County Department of Recreation, Parks and Community Services; St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department; Teen Court of St. Mary’s County; and Titan Financial Services.