Conroe ISD held its 11th Annual Student Leadership Academy at the Deane L. Sadler Administration Building this week. An array of notable guests, including retired NFL Player Gerald Irons, the Honorable Judge Kathleen Hamilton, and Congressman Kevin Brady, spoke at the four-day conference for 60 eighth grade students from Irons, Knox, McCullough, Moorhead, Peet, Washington, and York Junior High Schools. Throughout the week, students participated in numerous leadership activities such as mock interviews and panel discussions.
“I like the program because I like to go out of my comfort zone,” one participant said. “It’s fun to meet new people, especially outside of school.”
The young leaders began the Leadership Academy in a discussion with Superintendent Don Stockton, who continued to commence each day with some words of wisdom for the young leaders. Gerald Irons, longtime school board member and the eponym of Irons Jr. High, spoke to the students about the importance of hard work, perseverance, and positive associations. Being the youngest of seven children, he never thought college was possible, until he attained a football scholarship. He proceeded to pursue both business and law degrees while playing for the NFL, defying all precedents and proving his critics wrong.
“I see my face in the faces in the audience. The Student Leadership Academy is so important because it helps students to know, as a group, that everyone in that group is looking to achieve things. They talk to each other and encourage each other. It goes back….to building positive associations,” Irons said.
The Honorable Judge Kathleen Hamilton greeted the students on day two, by discussing the importance of leadership and doing what is right in any career path. Shortly after, students were taken to the Conroe ISD Juvenile Detention Center, where they toured the facilities and learned that smart decision making can prevent a shattered future.
On Wednesday, the students went to Conroe North Regional Airport, where they explored the US Army Reserve Aviation Unit and listened to a speech from Air Force Sgt. John William Heimburger. From the airport, the students were taken to Lone Star College. The deans met with the students to answer questions about college readiness, scholarships, and courses of study/career paths. To end the day, the students were given the opportunity to talk with Congressman Kevin Brady via live video chat from Washington D.C. He was impressed by the students’ questions, which covered matters from educational policy to current foreign affairs. Brady spoke highly of the school district and congratulated the young leaders, who were hand-selected for the program, on a successful week.
Students began their final day at the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) with a tour of the dam, where they explored and learned about water treatment, regulation, and environmental processes from Jace Houston, General Manager of the facility. The students spent the day engaging in leadership activities before putting their team building and leadership skills to the test at the Challenge Course. Finally, the students let loose and finished the program at Incredible Pizza with fun, food, and new friends.