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Mike Riehls

Students ready to make impact



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Grosse Pointe North High School student Jessica Gabel strings together beads on a rope to make a keychain, symbolizing the students’ commitment to making a difference in their school. photo by Renee Landuyt.
November 29, 2012
Heading into Grosse Pointe North High School's student leadership conference Wednesday, Nov. 14, at First English Lutheran Church, North senior and Student Association president Sophia Avouris expected to discuss the school's strengths and weaknesses and learn to turn both into positives, to become a better leader.

Initially, that was her goal, as it was the 100-plus other organization leaders from North in attendance. Ultimately, she and the others learned that and much, much more. About themselves and their school.

"We have all these things we're going to do this year planned — we have fundraisers, we have a dance, we have a blood drive, we have adopt-a-family," Avouris said. "But (the conference) just kind of gave me a view of how I can organize better, how I can accomplish the whole idea of what do you want to change in your school."

As leaders and ambassadors of the school, Avouris said, it's hers and the others' responsibility to affect change, to make a difference in things such as communication, community perception, student enthusiasm for learning and, most important to the student leaders, to combat cliques and work toward a more peaceful, unified coexistence. One way of doing so, students learned during the day-long event that featured guest lecturer and presenter Tom Heethuis, lies in their ability to cater activities toward those students less likely to participate.

"I thought it was cool how (Heethuis) broke down certain things and gave us good examples of how we should lead," senior and SA senator Sean O'Melia said. "Like, instead of saying we should base things off of ourselves, we should base things off of the people who normally don't participate. Because the people who always do participate will continue to do so no matter what the theme is, and the people who don't normally participate will participate in something they like.

"So, that's something good to think about, and I wish I had learned that when it wasn't my senior year so I could do more things from what I learned here in the next coming years."

While it's an unlikely expectation for Avouris and O'Melia and other senior leaders to make an immediate and long-lasting impact, as all are midway through their senior years, it's their hope to lay a foundation for others, like junior Robert Nesom, to continue to build upon.

"One of my big goals is definitely to get more people involved in different groups," Nesom said. "Because, it's so much of, like, the same kids at all the games, at all the — going to homecoming, helping with homecoming. So, I really just want to get more kids involved and go to all the different groups and people that you normally wouldn't talk to."

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