High-achieving seventh graders in various schools in the North Bergen School District were able to meet each other in an annual conference on June 18 at North Bergen High School to enable them to learn leadership skills from each other.
Student council members, kids in the gifted programs, and other leaders were invited to attend.
Student Karina Boronich, who attends Robert Fulton School, said that she was asked to participate because she is a gifted and talented, or PEAK (Personalized Enrichment for the Advancement of Knowledge) student.
“This is really a great program and it’s a really great way of teaching kids leadership,” said Boronich. “I learned the qualities of being a good leader.”
“I thought it was pretty interesting because we got to know how everybody is a different kind of leader.” – Delilah Corales
Besides sharing leadership ideas, the day also affords the students an opportunity to exchange ideas about fundraising, studying, and other subjects.
Breaking the ice
Nussman said that at the event, Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Superintendent Robert Dandorph, North Bergen High School Principal Pascual Tennaro, Guttenberg Anna L. Klein School Principal Pedro Garrido, and Special Services Director Robert Kornberg spoke to students and answered questions.
Boronich said that she asked Tennaro how he dealt with all the responsibilities of his job when he first got it, and how he felt about it.
“[He said] it was stressful and it was hard for him, but sooner or later he got adjusted to it, and the only reason he was in this position was because he had the qualities that it took,” said Boronich.
Sacco spoke about the difficulties of being a leader. He told students that for a state senator, most of the work goes on “behind the scenes” and involves working with people to gain a consensus.
Nussman said that students often come to her after the event and say things like “I made more friends,” “I didn’t realize how hard it was to be a leader,” or “I’m proud to be a leader.”
In eighth grade, students will return to the high school for another leadership conference, but then they’ll talk about the dilemmas that affect leaders when they confront obstacles like cheating, or underage drinking, said Nussman.
“This is about building a sense of community among these kids,” said Nussman.
‘We need to get involved’
Horace Mann Student Nikihl Vits, who is vice president of his school’s Student Council, said that the day was interesting because he got to learn more about the different responsibilities that leaders face.
Vits said he learned that many leadership positions aren’t easy, but are well worth it. He enjoyed being able to sit and talk with students from other schools about leadership qualities.
“We need to take leadership in our hands,” said Vits. “We need to get involved. We need to do extra stuff rather than just attending school. We need to take a stand for ourselves.”
Delilah Corales, an Anna L. Klein student, said that she was asked to take part because she is a member of the Student Council. She said that she routinely helps with activities like cleaning up the school or fundraising.
“I thought it was pretty interesting because we got to know how everybody is a different kind of leader,” said Corales.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.