Students Taking the LEAP

Video by Elizabeth Apple

Elizabeth Apple and Kristin Meader

What is LEAP?

On Friday, November 17, 2017, Souhegan High School’s Ethics Forum traveled to UNH Manchester for their annual LEAP Conference. LEAP, which stands for Leadership Empowering Authentic Progress, is a day-long conference that is full of leadership seminars led by participants of the Ethics Forum. At its core, it provides an opportunity where students can meet, interact and teach other students.

Students at the opening discussion, excited to participant in this year’s LEAP Conference.

Right off the bus, students from Souhegan High School, Raymond High School. Lowell High School, Belmont High School, Nashua North High School, Gilford High School, Manchester Tech High School, and Manchester Memorial High School, were excited to begin the day. Souhegan’s emcees Kate Hollister, Brian Heaney, and Hannah Pike welcomed everyone to LEAP 2017. The total number of students for the day was more than 230.

Souhegan Senior and emcee Brian Heaney, listening to some great suggestions from the crowd.

What Did the Students Learn at LEAP?

LEAP sets out to challenge students regardless of their background, their developing goals, and their aspirations to become aware of their own leadership potential. At this year’s event, students were allowed to visit four different sessions and engage in small group discussions of their peers from every school. Students were taught about the importance of seeing and accomplishing their goals in the Vision Session. They were also given the opportunity to learn about how to make smart decisions in the Decision Making Session. In the Self-Advocacy Session, students recognized the significance of putting yourself first. And in the Collaboration Session, they got the chance to see the relevance in working together and being respectful of each other. Each Session was run by a group of Souhegan High School Ethics Forum members.

LEAP stands for Leadership Empowering Authentic Progress.

How Does LEAP and the Ethics Forum operate?

The Souhegan Ethics Forum prides itself on being a student-led organization. They plan events such as Hope for Gus, Operation Pumpkin, and the HYPE (Hosting Young Philosophy Enthusiasts) Conferences, as well as the LEAP (Leadership Empowering Authentic Progress) Conference.

To get ready for this year’s LEAP Conference, students from the Forum have been working together for a few weeks on making sure each seminar teaches and values important leadership skills. Each of the seminars was taught by members of the forum, and the students are in charge of what important themes they wished to convey this year. Seminar themes included Vision, Collaboration, Decision Making, and Self-Advocacy.

Souhegan Senior Harrison Mazur, conversing with students at the Vision Seminar on how to make goals a reality.

What Did the LEAP Format Look Like?

For those interested in attending a future LEAP Conference, the entire day and schedule are designed by Souhegan High School Students. At 8am students from the schools gathered in the UNH Manchester conference room and were given free t-shirts, lanyards, name tags, and room assignments. After opening introductions from the emcee’s, they were then directed to classrooms for deeper discussions. Each room assignment rotated until lunch. After lunch, the groups returned to the seminar rooms for a debrief session. Students discussed what they had learned and how they could translate the takeaways from LEAP to their schools.

Students from Raymond High School enthusiastically participating in the debrief session.

Finally, students came back into the main room for closing remarks, goodbyes, and jokes! At the end of the day, each student left learning something new. The buzz of the seminars from the conference left students assured that good decision making, achievability of goals, and advocating for yourself is all possible. Multiple contacts were exchanged between schools from different students, and many friendships were formed. Nobody left that day without smiling or laughing.

Souhegan Senior Anna Schulte, making everyone smile by cracking some Thanksgiving themed jokes.

More on LEAP

To see additional information about LEAP or the Souhegan Ethics Forum, visit Or to see more pictures from the day, check out the slideshow below. Learn about our students taking the LEAP!