PRINCETON, NJ - Skylar Dowling, a senior at Gov. Livingston, and Kaitlyn Cumiskey, a senior at New Providence High School, were selected to attend a Senior Leadership Summit held by the NJSIAA at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village.
Every NJSIAA-member school was invited to send a senior representative to attend the four-hour program that featured five guest speakers, four of whom grew up playing sports in different parts of New Jersey.
Among the event speakers were Joetta Clark-Diggs, four-time Track & Field Olympian and Bob Hurley, Hall of Fame High School basketball coach, Tyrone Johnson, a 25-year Newark firefighter and assisted in the 9/11 recovery and high school track and field coach, and Paul Sarlo, Deputy Majority Leader of the State Senate and Hall of Fame high school athlete. Deb Hult, a nationally recognized speaker and trainer, took the students through a series of excercises that brought out their communication skills, creativity and leadership traits. As a result, the students could help themselves and also help them boost their support of peers back at their respective schools.
Clark Diggs, as the keynote speaker, reminded the students that they all have talents, but that there are also no shortcuts to success. To achieve success, there will also be setbacks that require perserverence, patience and other life skills, she said. “Being from New Jersey,” she said, “If you can compete here, you can compete anywhere.”
Johnson conveyed a similar message of how he used his experiences as a student and also an athlete to pass both the written and physical tests near the top of his class to become a firefighter, which is something he wanted to do ever since his grandmother’s home burned when he was 13. He explained how he has continued to apply those athletic and leadership lessons throughout his distinguished career.
Senator Sarlo spoke of how impactful the lessons of discipline and teamwork he learned playing football, basketball and baseball have helped him achieve success in his endeavors, and Hurley conveyed a series of stories from throughout his career that related to leadership, many of which shared a common theme - the importance of preparation.