Sixty aspiring Wake County high school student leaders received advice Wednesday on traditional skills such as dining etiquette and more modern skills such as social media etiquette.
Local business leaders at the High Climbers Leadership and Career Summit are teaching leadership skills and trying to give the high school freshmen a feel for what life will be like when they’re out of school. From the opening speech Wednesday to the team-building activities that will be held Thursday, the focus is on getting the students to think of themselves as leaders.
“Don’t be that guy, don’t be that girl that just settles for just the medium,” football star Torry Holt told the students. “It’s okay to step out. It’s okay to be different. It’s what leaders are.”
Holt and his brother, Terrence, also a former NFL player, told the students that great leaders put themselves around people who know things they don’t know. They added that great leaders are also great listeners who serve as role models to others.
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One of the messages Wednesday from the Holt brothers and speakers at different workshops is to be careful of what you type electronically, whether it’s on social media or in an email message.
Leigh Morrison, corporate social media manager of Red Hat, told the students they should also realize that anything they post, including items they thought were deleted, can be found.
“It’s really very important that you’re cautious and thoughtful about what you post on social media, who you connect with and how you show up,” Morrison said.
The messages Wednesday caught hold with at least some students.
“I learned how you can be a leader and you have to be careful what you post when you apply to get a job,” said Elizebeth Singleton, 17, a freshman at Mary Phillips High School at Raleigh.
Singleton said she’ll also make sure not to type email messages in all caps after learning that it can make her sound angry to the recipient.
What resonated with Nicholas Hoskins, 15, a freshman at the Wake Young Men’s Leadership Academy in Raleigh, is how Torry Holt warned the students not to clown around in high school. Holt talked about how he went to Hargrave Military Academy to turn his life around before being accepted into N.C. State University.
“The speakers were very passionate and we learned a lot from them, especially the older brother, Torry, who told us what not to do,” Hoskins said.
The summit will shift from students wearing business attire for Wednesday’s workshops at the Captrust tower in Raleigh to teens donning T-shirts and shorts for Thursday’s team-building activities at Camp Mary Atkinson in Selma.
High Climbers is led by members of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Raleigh Class of 2016, along with various Leadership Raleigh alumni and Triangle corporate sponsors.
The summit is now in its fourth year with students from 11 Wake County high schools.
Terrance Merriweather, 17, a junior at Sanderson High School in Raleigh, said the lessons he learned from the 2014 summit have helped him to this day. He is now on Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill’s student leadership council and mentors a younger student at Sanderson.
“It helped me knowing that people cared outside of my family,” Merriweather said. “They want me to be successful.”
Merriweather said the summit showed him the benefits of working with mentors, such as Traci Claiborne, Sanderson’s career development coordinator and the school’s IMAGE club.