FP students inspired by women’s leadership event

Forest Park students who attended the recent Women in Sports Leadership conference in Lansing talked about their experiences last week. From left: Taylor Clark, Mercedes Simmons, JV basketball coach Kim Bjork, Cassie Divine and Lea LaChapelle.

CRYSTAL FALLS—In early February, the Michigan High School Athletic Association held its 23rd Women in Sports Leadership conference in Lansing. The event is held in even-numbered years for students, coaches, administrators and officials “to gain a better understanding of the many responsibilities of leadership.”
    This year’s theme was “Embrace the Challenge,” and of the approximately 500 attendees, five came from the Upper Peninsula: Forest Park coach Kim Bjork and four Lady Trojan underclassmen.
    A month and a half later, Bjork and the students—juniors Cassie Divine and Taylor Clark, sophomore Mercedes Simmons and freshman Lea LaChapelle—are still pumped up about what they experienced. They talked about it last week.
    The story began during an English class in early January when the students were asked to write an essay. Topic: leadership—what it is, what it means to them and its role in their lives.
    “We wrote about people who inspired us to be leaders,” Divine said, “and our experiences with leadership.”
    “And how we want to lead in the future and change the world,” added Clark. “Inspiring others to bring forth change.” She wrote about people in her community who lead by service.
    Those who wrote the top essays were chosen by the Raise Her UP Committee as candidates to attend the WISL conference. Raise Her UP is an endowment fund created through the Dickinson Area Community Foundation to empower young women to become leaders.
    Funds for the Lansing trip were raised during Raise Her UP’s Hometown Flavor event held last November.
    The WISL conference was held at Crowne Plaza Lansing West on Feb. 4 and 5. “It was kind of overwhelming at first,” said Divine, “because of how many people there were.”
    “A lot of girls in a small space,” Clark added. “But it was really cool and empowering that there were so many willing to bring forth change—so many girls who want to be inspired to be leaders.”

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