Honesty, integrity and fairness were among the major themes local students and community leaders discussed Wednesday at the 28th annual Youth, Leadership and the Future Conference.
Around 100 students from the Glendale, Burbank and La Cañada Flintridge school districts joined local business and civic leaders at Glendale Community College for the annual program organized by the Character and Ethics Project.
Students who participate are mostly juniors and seniors from public high schools in the tri-city area, according to Susan Hunt, executive director of Glendale Educational Foundation and co-chair for the conference.
Hunt said the conference aims to include a “broad spectrum” of students from the community each year.
“This is a very unique event,” said Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian, who serves as the conference’s other co-chair. “What we are trying to do is instill the elements of what makes a good leader.”
Students were split into groups where they were paired with community leaders to discuss how to handle ethical dilemmas in different scenarios, such as what to do if they witness a friend shoplifting.
Students and mentors also discussed events from national headlines, including the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
Following the group discussions, the students gathered to share highlights from their experience at the conference.
“We’re all leaders in our own different ways,” said Alex Khalil, a student at Burbank High School and a member of the conference’s student planning team.
Former L.A. Dodgers outfielder Al Ferrara served as the keynote speaker for the conference, sharing with students stories from his career in Major League Baseball and how his teammates taught him leadership and integrity.
“The leaders make everybody else leaders,” he said. “They strived and pushed me to greater heights and made me a better player.”
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