LOHS Leadership class cultivates future trailblazers

By Jim Newell
Review Staff Writer
Many people in the community may have enjoyed the smiling faces in the Homecoming Parade, the halftime activities at the football game or seeing their kids get dressed up for the Homecoming dance.
And while Homecoming week in Lake Orion has ended, many people probably never thought about the unsung students behind the curtain who orchestrate the whole occasion.
The Lake Orion High School Leadership Development Workshop class, or simply Leadership or LDW, as it is known in the high school, planned, organized and choreographed the Homecoming activities: the parade, the student Activities Night, the themed-days at the high school, the Powderpuff game, the Pep Rally, the Homecoming Court elections and the decorations and halftime ceremony at the football game.
“It’s a big responsibility for a group of kids and a couple of advisors to organize a community homecoming. Because it really is a community homecoming,” said teacher Lori Hogan, one of the LDW advisors.
There are currently 55 students in the Leadership class, comprised of sophomores through seniors.
The Leadership has five E-board (Executive Board) student leaders, and two advisors: Hogan and Amy Redman. There also is a Lead 9 class for freshmen.
For Homecoming, the students broke up into 10 different committees, each focusing on some aspect of the week, and each student working on two committees.
LDW seniors Jordyn Marchese and Maddie Check were on the Pep Assembly Committee.
“We’ve been planning months and months for this. Thank god it went over well,” Marchese said, adding that the various homecoming committees formed as soon as school started in September and began planning right away.
“We try to involve the crowd as much as we can because it’s all about getting the crowd into it,” Check said. “We knew we wanted the senior boys to do a dance, and people really liked that.”
For a glimpse into the Pep Assembly activities, see pages 16-17 in this week’s Lake Orion Review.
Marchese said students were eager to partake in all the activities, more than there were spots available. “People want to participate. We had over 100 (students) sign up for the Pep Assembly and only about 60 openings.”
“My favorite part is just being able to work on big events, and working as a team to do these events,” Marchese said.
“We really bring the school together,” Check said.
The Leadership class meets three days per week for one-and-a-half hours each class. “It’s different than student council because you meet during the day instead of after school,” Marchese said.
Some of the other big events the Leadership plans throughout the school year include Prom and the winter charity dance, in which they raised $5,000 last year for the humane society.
The class also has weekly responsibilities and getting into the class is a little more rigorous than saying, “I want to be in LDW.”
“You have to apply and if your application is approved you get an interview,” Marchese said.
Check said the student Leadership also creates the Awareness Boards in the high school each week – inspirational, motivational or informative collages; runs the weekly recycling program; and babysit at PTOs.
Every Friday, the students volunteer at every elementary in the district, Hogan said, where they read to classes, make copies for teachers and whatever else the teacher and younger students may need.
“That class, you’re not sitting, you’re always on your feet doing something,” Check said.
“It is a class that is graded in class and out in the community,” Hogan said. “It’s pretty competitive.”
The students learn accountability, time management, planning and cooperation through the program, which has won several state awards and is consistently in the top 10 percent of student Leadership councils in the state, including being a four-time Award of Excellence winner, Hogan said.
“Other schools come to us, often seeking our advice on events and activities,” Hogan said.
Next year Lake Orion will host the MASC (Michigan Association of Student Councils) State Conference.
“These are all such nice kids,” Hogan said. “The students who leave our program come back and say how much they loved doing it and how much it has helped them prepare for the challenges they face.”

(From left) Anna Graffeo, Bethany Gardner, Jessica Laconis and Matthew Martocci. Just four of the 55 students in the Leadership program at LOHS. Photos by Jim Newell.
(From left) Anna Graffeo, Bethany Gardner, Jessica Laconis and Matthew Martocci. Just four of the 55 students in the Leadership program at LOHS. Photos by Jim Newell.