State of the Student State Conference 2017

Matt Alley's picture

The 2017 MASC/MAHS State Leadership Conference was one for the books. This year we had the pleasure of working with nearly 2,000 student leaders from 100 schools across the state of Michigan. Not to be out-done, the program content answered the call and delivered the most powerful, impactful and unique conference experience we have ever put on, including a keynote from MSU Football Coach Mark Dantonio.

Moving conference venues from the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City to the Amway Grand and DeVos Place in Grand Rapids really unlocked the potential our State Leadership Conference. This year we were able to increase our participant attendance by almost 600 student leaders, while maintaining a streamlined conference agenda and offering some of the best programming found in our nation. Since this was our inaugural year with our new venue, we knew we had to bring the "wow" factor in every aspect of our program. Let's start from the top:

Keynote Presentations
Our conference structure allows for multiple keynote opportunities, all aimed to motivate and inspire our student leaders. We wasted no time is setting the tone, surprising our students in our opening ceremony with a keynote presentation from Michigan State Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio.

The conference program also included three additional keynote sessions for our student audience: one of the strongest lineups we have ever put together. Below are the 2017 Keynote Speakers and links to their websites. If your school is looking for an impactful keynote, I would highly recommend giving any of the speakers below a look.
Camille Yameen
Molly Kennedy
Mark Black

This year, we also introduced a side-by-side Saturday schedule for our Advisers. While our student leaders were in sessions, our advisers had the opportunity for their own professional development. Advisers play a crucial role in constantly assessing our school climate and making meaningful impacts in our school environment. Bringing in three keynote speakers specifically tailored to work with advisers in these areas allowed for idea sharing, resource exchange and in-depth program review. This part of our program was one of the most highly ranked, as we continue to provide the top training and program content for students and advisers alike.

Keynote Presentation Review
Another new feature this year was to add a sketch artist to the program background. In order to ensure that our students were constantly assessing their own knowledge, skill sets and reflection skills, our sketch artists recorded each keynote session, using graphics to depict learning outcomes. This allowed for students to review presentations and really let the impressions from our speakers sink in.

Structured Activities and Student Showcase Presentations
Structured activities are a large part of our programming. These sessions have a dedicated curricular agenda for students to increase particular skill sets. This allowed for our student leaders to exchange ideas and programming, as well as facilitate networking skills.

Showcases give our student leaders the chance to present a concept, program, fundraiser, etc. to hundreds of other students from across the state. These presentations are designed to give our student audience all the tools they would need to put this program into action in their own building. Showcase presentations have been uploaded for schools to use as a resource, click here for access.

Service Project
To round out this year's experience we added a conference-wide service project. In order to showcase the impact we as leaders can have, we partnered with the Military Work Dogs Support Team Association. This association provides care packages to military work dogs and their handlers serving our country. In order to make this experience really resonate, schools brought items to be donated to the cause, but more importantly our student leaders wrote hand-written letters to our service men and women expressing their feelings of support and gratitude. Almost 2,000 hand written letters will now be sent with care packages across the world.

In closing, this conference was the largest in Association history. A success and experience for our students that will not soon be forgotten. It could not have been completed without the help of our Host School - Lake Orion High School - our dedicated staff, our partners in leadership, or our incredible membership across the state. If you would like more information on the State Conference, or would like to know how your school can get involved, please contact Matt Alley, Director of Student Services at