The members of the student planning team helped develop the hypothetical scenarios that students and adults discussed in small groups midway through the conference. Students are asked to create the ethical situations because the conference organizers want the ethical dilemmas to feel current and true to life, said Mike Seaton, co-chair of the conference. Conference organizers also aim to connect the ethical dilemmas with current events.
“All the things are coming out of the headlines,” Seaton said.
Early in the conference, participants talked in small groups about the qualities exhibited by good leaders.
But the heart of the conference — according to one of its founders, former Glendale schools Deputy Supt. Don Empey — is when the students and adults break off into smaller teams to debate and discuss the ethical dilemmas presented.
“I learn from what they say,” said Jaime Saavedra, a senior at Clark Magnet High School, of the adults he meets at the conference.
Adults and students are usually paired one-on-one to discuss the ethical issues. But because of limited space at the hotel facility this year, participants were divided into groups of three — two students to one adult, Seaton said.
While the event is designed to shape the values of new leaders, the adults who attend learn something too, said Sunder Ramani, who chairs the conference.
“We have repeat adults begging to come back,” Ramani said. “They learn, every year, a different perspective.”
First-year participant Robert Ickes, who works at Providence High School in Burbank, said he hoped to convey that students were faced with ethical choices just like those facing adults.
“In the business world, it’s not that different than being in school,” Ickes said.
The conference is designed to bring high school students who are leaders in a range of activities, from sports to student government to academics.
The annual event is important because young people constantly face ethical dilemmas, and ethics isn’t discussed nearly enough, Ramani said.
ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at email@example.com.