ARLINGTON >> It takes a special person to be a leader. Someone who can lead by example, excelling in the classroom, performance as an athlete or by the way you act in the community — usually all of those qualities.
Earlier this month, Arlington Memorial High School and its athletic department made an effort to promote more leadership from their student-athletes.
At the Vermont Student-Athlete Leadership Conference held in Burlington on November 9 and 10, Arlington brought four of their athletes to part take in the two-day convention.
Juniors Jared Lacoste and Riley Lane and sophomores Bailey Cross and Grace Smith were the selected by Arlington athletic director Ashley Hoyt to attend the event and the four students were chosen because their excellence in the classroom and for their heavy participation in sports.
Each student was a multi-sport athlete for Arlington, with all four students playing soccer during the fall. In the spring, Cross and Lacoste play baseball and golf, while Lane runs track and plays on the softball team. Smith also competes on the golf team and swims during the winter, for the Bennington Marauders and the Manchester Tritons club swim teams.
The candidates also had to be a sophomore or junior, since Hoyt wanted the students to be able to use what they learned as upperclassmen in the next two years.
"The conference was a great opportunity for our students to meet other students and learn about leadership issues in high school sports," Hoyt said. "Jared, Riley, Bailey and Gracie did a great job of asking questions and joining in the discussions. They represented our school well."
The Arlington students were part of more than 250 students that attended the conference. In total, there were 46 high schools in Vermont that participated in the event.
At the conference, the student-athletes would get involved in discussion groups based on four areas of leadership, including decision-making, team-building, leadership challenges and bullying and hazing.
Students would discuss the circumstances that are involved in that particular area and come up with ways to be a good leader or someone to talk to in those situations.
The other take away from the conference was getting to meet and bond with students from other schools.
Hoyt was also served as a conference facilitator at the convention as well.
"The conference was also a great activity for our kids to meet new people and make new friendships," Hoyt said. "All of them I have told me they still text and talk to the other students they became friendly with at the conference. I'm really happy they had the opportunity do that and those friendship could be a big help for them in the future."
The leadership conference was such a success, that Hoyt plans on bringing four new students from Arlington to next year's event. The goal, Hoyt said, will be again to bring two students each from the sophomore and junior class to the conference, and for those students to help invoke more leadership in the school and kids more involved in school related activities.
"They might be only teenagers, but high school students can be good leaders too," Hoyt said. "Students can be leaders in a classroom or in the school itself, just like me or another teacher. They might not have the same authority as us adults, but they can still help their fellow classmates succeed and do well in school."