By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
GAMBIER — Thursday's Knox Addition Conference included a student track discussing leadership and peer pressure. About 40 members of the Mount Vernon High School football team voluntarily attended the sessions; one female also attended.
Led by Shawn Jeffers, co-founder and director of development for Youth at the Center, the goal of the session on peer pressure was to explore what makes someone a celebrity, leader or role model. Students, divided into eight groups with an adult facilitator, were shown pictures of eight people. The group, within 90 seconds, was to reach consensus as to how the group viewed each person: role model, celebrity or leader. Each group also wrote down why the person was perceived in that manner.
The session ended with a short video showing a young man dancing in a park. He was joined by another person, called a first follower, then another and another. The narrator noted that the first follower is what transforms a “lone nut” into a leader. The point was that you don't always have to be a leader, but, just like clicking “like” on FaceBook, you can support someone or some cause.
“Our job is not to tell you what to think. Our job is to challenge you to think. At the end of the day, it's on you to decide what leadership looks like,” conference presenters told the students.
“You need a first follower to have leadership,” one student told KnoxPages.com, adding that the first follower provides a “spark.” “You start off with one person that thinks it's not cool … If I believe drugs are bad and I talk to other people and voice my opinion, sometimes people will follow.”