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Student leaders collaborate, gain inspiration at Youth Ambassadors Leadership Conference

On January 31, 2020, Naperville Park District hosted its annual Youth Ambassadors Leadership Conference. Approximately 100 student leaders from five area high schools gathered to collaborate, network and be inspired in their leadership roles.  The keynote speaker was Rob Elgas, co-anchor and reporter for the 4:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Eyewitness News shows on ABC Chicago Channel 7. 

Neuqua Valley H.S. teacher John Gelsomino, student Eva Topolewski, ABC 7 News anchor Rob Elgas, and student Barrett Bailey at the Jan. 31 Leadership Conference, Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center

Neuqua Valley High School student Eva Topolewski introduced the keynote speaker, who happens to be her father. In his talk, he encouraged students to embrace failure and own up to their mistakes as leaders. He told stories from a parent’s perspective, defining success as being proud of your children.

Students had an opportunity to socialize and to work in small groups, sharing ideas with students in other high schools who are leading similar clubs and activities. 

Several teachers who serve as advisors for the Youth Ambassador program in their schools attended the conference. The teachers were Kristina Hagenbaumer, physical education teacher and activities director for Naperville Central High School, Gino Campise, English teacher at Naperville North High School, and John Gelsomino, media teacher at Neuqua Valley High School. They said that students look forward to this conference and that attendance continues to grow.

One of the main purposes of Youth Ambassadors, now in its 20th year, is to organize fun, positive activities for teens in the community. Finding events that fit students’ busy schedules is increasingly difficult. Some of the recent past events include Battle of the Bands and a dodgeball tournament. They are looking into the feasibility of an open mic night for 2020.
 Representatives from media clubs at several high schools met at this table.

Rob Elgas and Keke Dean, a sophomore at Naperville Central High School and member of the girls’ basketball team. Seniors dressed up the younger players for Senior Night, this year as Oompa Loompas from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

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