Oakdale High School hosted the Central Valley Jostens Renaissance Conference on March 30 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center. Students and adult advisors from numerous junior high and high schools attended the event that included an inspirational speaker, workshops for students and advisors alike, an interactive lunch with a DJ host, and a rally.
OHS Renaissance Coordinator Denise Hitch said she was thrilled with the results of the Renaissance Conference.
“I was hoping to get 100 students and advisors there, but we actually had 200 representing 25 schools,” she said. “It was a chance to showcase the many great things going on at OHS to promote academic excellence.”
The conference training was designed to help motivated leadership students and advisors to develop and implement or improve an already existing Renaissance program. Renaissance addresses the academic performance of students and rewards not just good academic performance but improved academic performance as well.
Lindsay Cornwell, a leadership and Renaissance student from Downey High School, said that the conference taught her how to interact with groups and how to be a good leader and a role model.
“Several schools have e-mailed me that they had a ton of fun and got a lot of new great ideas on how to motivate students academically,” Hitch added.
The keynote speaker for the event was former Minnesota Viking football player Keith Nord, who delivered an inspirational message at the beginning and end of the conference.
When closing the conference, Nord talked about writing down goals, not quitting, and not being afraid to ask for help from people.
“When I started putting my goals on paper, my life changed,” Nord said.
He talked about his challenges with injuries, family members, and running his first marathon and how people helped him along the way.
Nord told the students to look at reality and embrace it.
“Just because you’re not where you want to be doesn’t mean it’s not where you’re supposed to be,” Nord said.
He added that challenges will help them grow and it’s their responsibility to deal with them. In closing, he told them that when they find themselves in a position of influence to make a difference, why not do it right there and then.
Hitch led conference sessions on fundraising ideas and working the Renaissance program year-round. Nord led two interactive student sessions, other sessions about starting new Renaissance programs and the recently-launched Jostens campaign called “Pause Before You Post” were led by Jostens Director of Educator Services Charley Nelson.
The “Pause Before You Post” campaign addresses responsible social networking and cyberbullying.
“Social media and cyberbullying are changing the way students express themselves and, as a result, impacting the experiences they have,” Nelson said in a release.
The campaign encourages students to make smart decisions with regard to personal publishing and social media, and asks them to “pause” and think before posting comments, photos or videos that could be embarrassing, misinterpreted or harmful to themselves or others. The program includes multimedia, print and online resources for educators to conduct awareness and educational campaigns in their schools to help students.
Hitch added that the conference was a team effort and would not have been possible without the partnership with the OHS Academic Boosters, Jostens Renaissance, local Jostens representatives, Jan and Terry Keiffer, Nelson from the national office and speaker Nord.