Dewar Elementary hosts 6th Annual Leadership Conference

Apr. 29—VALDOSTA — Dewar Elementary School hosted an inspiring gathering of 75 young leaders at its sixth annual Student Leadership Conference this semester, where seven elementary schools from Lowndes County and surrounding areas converged for a day of collaboration, growth, and leadership development.

"The point of the leadership conference is to bring schools in the area together and build community within Valdosta starting at a young age," said Shaina Larson, Dewar Elementary School's Student Council advisor.

The DES Student Council members played host to the group and were ready to check in visiting schools, shake hands, and initiate introductions.

This year's conference introduced a unique twist with students randomly sorted into "houses" based on key leadership qualities — integrity, adaptability, humility, and being a visionary.

"This theme really fit our push for a sense of community because the house members had to become a team and work together very quickly after meeting," Larson explained.

The day unfolded with students rotating through three engaging breakout sessions, each centered around one of the core leadership terms. A popular session was the visionary room, where students crafted vision boards, mapping out their goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

Fifth grader Addalyn Davis, from Lake Park Elementary School, said creating the vision board was her favorite part of the day. "We talked about goals, and a goal of mine is to go to Harvard when I am older," she said. "I cut out things from magazines that reminded me of the steps I need to take to get there, and I put them on my vision board."

The final session brought the group together for a team-building activity symbolizing adaptability, where each house served as a relay team, facing new obstacles with each round.

DES third-grader Arianna Smith was sorted into the Adaptability House, so she felt a particular sense of excitement starting the relay. "I like working in groups," she said. "We had to do things in new ways to try and finish."

As the obstacles proceeded, team spirit and camaraderie increased. "The students were cheering on people they just met that morning, which was really neat to see," Larson added.

Guest speaker Rico Tucker, Lowndes Middle School assistant principal, closed the event delivering a motivating address, inspiring students to embrace their potential as future leaders.

Larson said she hopes that the students leave with a new understanding of what it means to be a leader.

"After the sessions today, I think that being a leader means helping others even when you aren't asked to and always leading people in the right direction," said Addalyn as she left the event with confidence.