HANFORD — It can be difficult going out of one’s comfort zone and meeting new people, let alone trusting them, but students from across the valley converged at Hanford West High School on Wednesday and did just that.
Hundreds of students spent the day inside the gym doing trust activities and getting to know each other during a leadership development day. The event was in conjunction with the California Association of Student Leaders.
Although 17-year-old Carlos Osoria, a senior at HWHS and “not an extrovert”, didn’t think he would have a good time, he admittedly had a great time at the leadership development day.
“I love it. It’s very fun,” Osoria said. “It basically throws you into the pool instead of letting you put your toes in first.”
There were about 200 kids from five schools: Hanford West, Parlier High School, Orange Cove High School, Sierra High School and East Bakersfield High School. Joe McMahon, activities director at Hanford West High School, said this is the second year the school hosted the event.
McMahon said the students did great, especially interacting one-on-one with each other without the use of electronic devices.
“It’s just awesome to see them actually talking with each other, face-to-face and nobody’s texting,” McMahon said. “I think it’s awesome that we can get them to do that.”
Justina Rocha, 17, a junior at Hanford West, said she’s been involved with ASB and leadership classes since middle school. She said she likes that leadership classes prepare her to make a change in the world and be an advocate for others.
Rocha said being involved with leadership has taught her how to carry herself and be a good communicator.
“It helps us grow as students and people and it helps us in the long run,” Rocha said, adding what she’s learned will help her in the future.
A lot of the students may not realize that they go through the same issues in their lives, McMahon said, adding it was neat to watch the students slowly get to know each other, find things in common and get comfortable with each other.
Rocha said she enjoyed the event for the different perspectives and views she was able to encounter during the activities. Personally, she said she likes stepping out of her comfort zone and meeting new people.
“I like talking to other people, and I like creating those connections,” Rocha said.
Along with trust activities, the students learned about cultural competence and being aware of others’ values, morals and cultures and understanding how to be respectful of those things.
Jonathan Rangel, 16, a sophomore at Parlier High School, said he had an amazing time at the leadership development day. He said one of his main takeaways of the event was cultural competence and being respectful of others.
“Meeting new people is like my adrenaline. I love meeting new people,” Rangel said, adding he can’t wait to take what he learned and reach out to other kids at his school.
McMahon said every skill set they learned is transferable and applies to other aspects of their lives and beyond high school, like communication and working with others. He said he hopes the students will take what they learned back to their respective campuses and show other students.
Osoria said it was interesting getting to know other students and getting out of his comfort zone.
“It’s a very fulfilling experience,” Osoria said. “You get to put yourself out there, which is something that you don’t typically do on a day-to-day basis.”