HHS hosts iLead seminar


Holly Baldacci

Yesterday, Huntley High School hosted an iLead (“Illinois Leadership Enhancement and Development”) seminar to foster leadership abilities and critical thinking in high school students. The program was arranged for Huntley by junior Michelle Caputi, who was inspired to bring the four hour seminar to Huntley after attending a three-day flagship seminar at North Park University last summer. She was assisted by senior Austin Wise, who attended the flagship seminar during the summer of 2011.

One sophomore from every state is selected to attend the flagship leadership seminar, which focuses on helping attendees to grow into better leaders and to embrace their individuality.

“[The seminar] really shatters the box you’ve built up within you, and releases your inner self,” said Caputi. “I wanted to bring that here.”

To recruit for the seminar, Caputi and Wise spoke to NHS and community service members, SALT leaders, and various athletic groups.

“We didn’t want to open it to everyone,” said Wise. “We wanted to focus on the people who would be interested in leadership.”

The Huntley seminar, which Caputi has been arranging since October, lasted from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the east gym, and focused on allowing attendees to figure out what type of leader they were, how to react to tough situations, and the importance of being yourself. Attendees listened to a keynote speaker, participated in group discussions and debates, and performed group exercises.

“I hope that it helped them to learn what kind of leaders they are, and that they can use that in their organizations to be able to lead,” said Wise.

Another underlying theme of the seminar was how simple acts of kindness can impact others in a big way, even when what you say may be of no consequence to you. Attendees were given bracelets with the letters “YNA” (representing “You’re Not Alone”) to be passed along to others in times of need to show their support.

Accepting others while still remaining true to yourself was important as well, and the seminar stressed that leaders should consider the opinions and thoughts of others.

“The seminar helps you realize that it’s okay to have differing opinions, and it’s okay to stand up for what you believe in, as long as you aren’t telling someone they’re wrong,” said Caputi.

The seminar had about 25 attendees from various organizations throughout the school, and Caputi hopes to arrange another seminar next year. Caputi says she will begin recruiting earlier in the future to raise more interest in the event.

“My group was quiet, but I think they learned a lot,” said Caputi. “Everyone had amazing opinions.”