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MURRAY β€”The Utah High School Activities Association and the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association combined to hold the first annual Dare2Lead conference last Saturday at Murray High.

The event was a student leadership conference that brought together two students β€” a boy and a girl β€” from every high school in the state. The approximately 220 students, who were hand-selected by their principals as leaders in their school, spent the day discussing what it means to be a leader and how they can take those characteristics back and infuse them into their communities this fall.

Becky Anderson, the brains behind the conference and a UHSAA assistant director, formatted her event after attending the national version of the same event put on annually by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Anderson's conference had the three primary goals: to provide positive and powerful life lessons; have meaningful and motivating activities; and facilitate the opportunity for students to build friendships across the state.

"I think this is a great way to bring kids together from all over the state, let them sit down and learn from each other," Anderson said. "There are students here from 1A up to 5A, and most of them would never have met outside of an event like this."

The day began with an opening session that included talks by UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff and NFHS director of educational services Elliott Hopkins. Students then divided into groups for an introduction, followed by breakout sessions, which were facilitated by Salt Community College student-athletes, former NFHS leadership conference participants, and a handful of educators.

The goal of the introductory session, which grouped students with others from their same region, was to encourage participants to attempt overcoming challenges by using step-by-step processes. The challenge of the day was to learn to juggle.

Students were then shuffled and sent on to learn the four principles of leadership: maximize your potential, exert your power of influence, stay true to your purpose, and pursue your passion.

"It is fun to see these kids getting to know each other," Anderson said midway through the day. "You overhear them asking each other questions about their school β€” how big it is, how many students are in their graduating class, what it is like to attend a school that is so different from their own. What a great opportunity. I hope some of these kids are able to keep in touch after this day."

Lunch included talks from UIAAA executive director Marc Hunter and UIAAA president Ron Dolphin, as well as a presentation from Special Olympics Utah.

Following the presentation, students boarded buses and headed to Bonwood Bowling in South Salt Lake to participate in a bowl-a-thon to benefit Special Olympics Utah. The UHSAA rented all 42 lanes for 90 minutes of non-stop bowling and prizes.

"What a great way to do a service project," UHSAA assistant director Kevin Dustin said. "It's 100 degrees outside and we are in an air-conditioned bowling alley raising money for a good cause, and these kids are having a great time."

The day concluded with a closing session and dinner while Anderson and Hunter demonstrated to the students their juggling skills.

"I had a class at (the University of) Utah where the professor came in the first day and said 'to pass this class, you need to show me you can juggle,' "Anderson said, a story similar to one Hunter also told the students. "I practiced every night, and I can still juggle to this day."

For additional information visit: Utah High School Activities Association.