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Conference aims at building students into leaders

District 26 Judge Parker Self speaks to a student during the Student Leadership Conference hosted by State Sen. Ryan Gatti last week.
Sen. Gatti’s Student Leadership Conference connects area business owners, student leaders

Stacey Tinsley, stinsley@bossierpress.com

State Sen. Ryan Gatti brought together local students and community leaders to discuss and inspire success with a special conference last week.

“ I thought it was my job as your State Senator to put people in front of you that you can be your role model, people in front of you who can show you what success is, “ said Gatti.

Sen. Gatti gathered more then 100 student leaders from local and surrounding parish schools, including Bossier and Webster, to discuss leadership skills and what business owners look for when they are hiring for their companies at a special Student Leadership Conference.

Adriana Howard of Benton High School said, “It was pretty amazing, it’s something new and interesting for young leaders like us. I learned how to express myself and what it takes to be a leader.”

Six speakers shared their knowledge of what it takes to excel in leading others. These included District 26 Judge Parker Self, Principal of BPSTIL Jayda Spillers, Reiser Group Partner Paul Reiser, Bossier City restauranteur John Roden, and other business owners.

“The principles of leadership never change. If you guys work on leadership, in a few years when you start your careers, you start your own business, you’re going to have a skill that is very very valuable. Because everyone I know that owns businesses, they are all looking for leaders,” said Reiser.

State Senator Ryann Gatti takes a picture with a Haughton High Student.

“I was not college bound right out of high school. I didn’t have any guidance or direction. My foundation was I had to learn how to follow before I could lead,” said Roden. “You’ve got to put customers first. You have to work together. You’ve got to continuously improve.”

Gatti worked with school principals and counselors to select students they thought had leadership qualities, leaders with character and would benefit attending the special event.

“During this time in High School, you’re going to make a lot of choices. And those choices are either going to be magic or tragic. We want to put you in front of people that you can ask questions to and speak to and get to know. So you can kinda have a better path or better knowledge of where you want to be and what you want to be,” said Gatti.

Adriana Ricketson from Ringgold High School said the speakers gave her useful tips on how to be a good leader ahead of entering the US Navy after she graduates from high school.

“I’m really honored that I got to be apart of this and that I was chosen as one of the leaders that could be here. I feel really special. I (feel like I) could be like a leader in the Navy,” she said.

This is the second Student Leadership Conference hosted by Senator Ryan Gatti. His first conference was held earlier this year in February.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.