Students attend leadership conference


This past year, Jostens invited Grayslake North to its leadership conference to improve school culture and create leaders from students. The conference features high schools from across the state and beyond to create diversity in thought and bring new ideas to the table. Grayslake North welcomed the initiative, and many students attended the conference, sharpening their swords and shields to become great Knights.

“We listened to speakers share what they’re doing to make the world a better place and how we can also contribute to our school culture,” said junior Jada Kemp. “We also met with people from schools in the area to see what the similarities and differences were.”

The attendees of the conference from North aim to change the school. Improving the climate and increasing inclusivity are among the top priorities. They are in the midst of planning their upcoming project: prom for students with disabilities.

“We were talking about different ways to make sure the social groups at North are included outside of anyone who isn’t an athlete or academically excelling,” said senior Celia Palamalayil. “One of the ideas we thought about was a special needs prom which we’re actually in the midst of planning.”

Another priority focus of the group stems from the idea of rebranding. Jostens aims to teach schools how to develop a culture and identity that prioritizes excellence, inclusion, and pride.

“Rebranding is trying to fit like an image for our school specifically that shows anyone else like an outsider, the values that our school holds, typically like a motto or a slogan of some sort, where we talk about what’s important to us as a community,” Palamalayil said.

School culture is defined by a school’s inclusivity, accessibility, and support. The Jostens conference showed students the many ways that make every school’s culture distinct, and improving that culture is essential for students to embrace positivity and look forward to school.

“School culture to me is the environment of our school and what people see or think of when they hear the name Grayslake North. Jostens taught us that it was important to learn about our school culture from our peers and get the majority’s opinion so that it can reach its full potential,” Kemp said.

The large diversity of thought brought many new ideas to Grayslake. Junior Isabel Garza recounts one school that featured a wall of positive affirmations on the locker room to brighten an athlete’s day.

“I feel like learning and hearing different things that other schools had were super interesting, and it made me want to bring the new things to school and make a difference,” Garza said.

Jostens schools and students aim to associate schools with a comfortable space. Schools, according to Jostens, should be a place of comfort where students can be open.

“We go to learn about the climate of the school and the culture of our school, meaning the emotional feeling of entering a space and making sure that you’re comfortable,” Garza said.

The group meets multiple times throughout the year and plans to meet in February to check in and find other ways to further achieve schools’ goals.

“If we follow the guidebook that Jostens gives us we can incorporate new ways of inclusion and diversity in our schools,” Palamalayil said.