Members of the Ft. Jennings Student Council tasked with organizing the OASC conference are (standing, left to right) Vanessa Wallenhorst, Council President Marissa Krietemeyer, Adam Howbert, Madison Neidert, Megan Vetter and advisor Mr. Jeff Jostpille; (sitting, left to right) Natalie Morman and Lexie Stant. (DHI Media/Martin Verni)
Members of the Ft. Jennings Student Council tasked with organizing the OASC conference are (standing, left to right) Vanessa Wallenhorst, Council President Marissa Krietemeyer, Adam Howbert, Madison Neidert, Megan Vetter and advisor Mr. Jeff Jostpille; (sitting, left to right) Natalie Morman and Lexie Stant. (DHI Media/Martin Verni)
FORT JENNINGS — In late April of every year, the Ohio Association of School Councils comes together for its annual State Conference. The gathering, as described by OASC’s website, “…is a three-day event for both middle school and high school students to engage in special presentations, keynote speakers, informative small group discussions, swap shops, a banquet, a dance and many opportunities to make new friends and share ideas.”

Most importantly for student council representatives gathered together this past Monday, the three-day conference changes location on a yearly basis, offering student councils from all over the state the opportunity to showcase what makes their school and their community a special place. Fort Jennings High School will be hosting this school-year’s 65th annual OASC State Conference. The event will be held in the village’s school in April.

“Friday is the main day of the conference,” Fort Jennings Student Council President Marissa Krietemeyer said.

She is also head of the Steering Committee overseeing the conference’s planning, a task she shares with Vanessa Wallenhorst and Natalie Morman.

“We start off with the group sessions with all of the students in the gym. There will be a keynote motivational speaker that comes and then we’ll break off into smaller sessions for the afternoon. These sessions are different leadership and life-skill activities that [the visiting students] can take back home to their councils and schools. That evening, we close with a banquet and dance,” she continued.

The afternoon breakout sessions are organized and run by the students as well, as explained by Advisor Mr. Jeff Jostpille.

“[Students] have to submit proposals in order to present at the workshops during the Friday and Saturday part of the conference,” he said.

Instead of students around the state being given a topic and competing on which school gets to offer a presentation on that subject, the students themselves recommend a topic and submit a workshop proposal on their chosen subject.

“It all goes to the state organization the executive director, the director of the high school level and the director of the middle school level,” continues Jostpille. “They then pick which topics and presentations they feel are good and that they would want to have shared with the students of the state who are coming to the conference.”

“Then Saturday, everyone will come back to the school,” student council member Adam Howbert said. “We’ll have a general election for the new state board members. Then we’ll have a general session, followed by a closing session where we pass the flag on to the school that will host next year’s conference.”

“With having a conference this big, we will have a lot more students than we usually would,” student council member Lexie Stant said. “We have to house them around the community. So, we ask people to house them. It doesn’t matter how many [students per household]. We just need all of those spots filled, so students can come here.”

“For us as a council,” continued Stant, “We provide lunch daily, the banquet, drawstring bags for students to carry around [conference materials]. We have to provide the facility. We’re using the entire elementary and high school wings for all of the conferences sessions.”

Krietemeyer notes that Fort Jennings will be hosting 400 students and advisors from around the state and added, “With everybody that we have on council this year, and with the support from the community, it will be very successful.”

The upcoming event in April represents the third time Fort Jennings has hosted OASC’s Annual State Conference. According to Jostpille, the school served as host in 2007 and 2011 as well.

This past September, a housing form was sent out to every resident in Fort Jennings asking them to open their homes to these student conference attendees. The organizers report that they are still short on housing for the event. Approximately 50 more students from around Ohio still need a place to stay in order to attend. Mr. Jostpille remains confident that area families will embrace the opportunity to showcase Fort Jennings’ community spirit and serve as a host to these students. Those who may be interested, are asked to contact Jeff Jostpille at Fort Jennings High School by calling 419-286-2238.