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Greater Miami Conference seeking positive growth through Student Leadership Summit

The Greater Miami Conference is taking steps to strengthen its core values.

The 10-school conference — which includes Hamilton, Middletown, Lakota West, Lakota East, Fairfield, Sycamore, Princeton, Oak Hills, Mason and Colerain — will have a Student Leadership Summit on Thursday at the Mercy Health home office in Norwood.

Hamilton principal John Wilhelm said the idea came from the GMC principals, who want to promote sportsmanship, mutual respect and positive interaction among member schools.

“The Greater Miami Conference is an excellent, excellent league, and we’ve been around for over 50 years now,” Wilhelm said. “As an administrator, I want our students to compete, but I also want them to develop skills and understandings and relationships with others. Hopefully in 10 or 20 years they’ll be interacting with these people in business or other parts of their lives.”

The summit will start at 9 a.m. and run for approximately five hours. It will include 10 students and administrators from each school.

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Wilhelm said the setup is designed to be “a way for our students to work in a non-athletic realm, but with athletics in mind. So we decided to get our student leaders in the building, primarily those students who lead cheering sections.”

Nick Jackson, a motivational speaker representing Speak Love, will be the event facilitator. Wilhelm said he’s brought in Jackson to speak to Hamilton students in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

“He’s real powerful,” Wilhelm said. “He’s about being real, but staying positive. He knows how to talk to kids.”

Tyler Bradshaw, a Fairfield graduate and mental health blogger, will also be a guest speaker.

Students will come together for some games to start the day. Breakout sessions with the Speak Love team will follow, along with a cookout lunch and the organization of service projects.

Lakota East football fans make the night brighter Sept. 29, 2017, at Lakota West. East posted a 35-0 victory in the matchup of district rivals. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Each group will pair with a rival school — Hamilton/Middletown, Lakota East/West, Sycamore/Mason, Oak Hills/Princeton and Fairfield/Colerain — in the service-project phase.

Each team will create a project/culminating event that brings both communities together and assists those in need in both areas. Each project idea will be announced by the teams at the end of the summit, and the schools will hold each other accountable for following through.

Wilhelm is happy to have the participation and support of every GMC school.

“It wouldn’t work if we didn’t,” he added.

Lakota West’s Elgin Card is taking over for Wilhelm as president of the GMC principals, while Middletown’s Aaron Zupka is president of the conference athletic directors. Steve Shuck and Stu Eversole are the commissioner and assistant commissioner, respectively.

Wilhelm is grateful for the support of Mercy Health in creating the summit, adding, “I think they want to have a greater footprint on local high schools.”

The summit will not be open to the public. Wilhelm said having an audience might lead to less frank discussions among students.

Wilhelm said he doesn’t see a lot of bad behavior at GMC sporting events, but he realizes that kids will be kids.

“They’re going to do silly things sometimes,” said Wilhelm, who hopes to make the summit an annual event. “We have to help them learn and grow, and this is part of it. We’re trying to get ahead of the game, I guess. It’s not just about eliminating negative behavior, but accentuating positive behavior too.”

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