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Leadership Conference Inspires Bridgehampton Student to Bring Environmental Initiatives Home

Posted on 05 June 2013

ALA Inside Group Photo (1) copy

The Bridgehampton School’s Henry Kotz was one of 70 students nationwide to participate in a you leadership conference this spring. The experience has inspired Kotz to enact a community project to help maintain town beaches. 

By Tessa Raebeck

The leaders of tomorrow will be cleaning up our beaches this summer.

Bridgehampton High School student Henry Kotz is enacting a community project to maintain town beaches, inspired by his experience at the HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership) Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) earlier this year.

Kotz attended HOBY ALA from February 28 to March 4 at the Sandy Cove Retreat Center in northeast Maryland. He presented on the experience at the Bridgehampton Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Wednesday, May 29.

“To sum up what HOBY ALA was,” said Kotz. “It was leadership, networking and experiences.”

The conference is in its inaugural year, so Kotz was able to test the program for future Bridgehampton students. Most HOBY seminars hold about 250 students (called ambassadors) but since ALA was new this year, just about 70 students attended.

“It consisted of ambassadors from across the country and two Canadian ambassadors,” said Kotz, who added that he made many friends at the program. “All HOBY alumni have instant connections with each other.”

“I became friends with kids from Vermont to California,” he said. “About half of the ambassadors at HOBY ALA are seniors this year. I plan on visiting many of them when I go on college road trips next year.”

According to the organization’s website, the mission of HOBY is “To inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.”

Kotz explained that during the conference, students formed groups of eight to ten and had thorough discussions about a wide range of global issues.

“During these discussions, we were encouraged to speak up and give ideas, but also to listen to what others had to say,” said Kotz, adding the five-day conference was fun, but also demanding.

“Us ambassadors were put through tests that challenge our leadership,” said Kotz. “Most of the time, we don’t really realize that we’re being tested. The tests we are put through are as simple as reading directions when playing board games…and as complex as planning our leadership project.”

Kotz chose to implement a weekly beach cleanup as his project because he said he is “very passionate about the environment.”

He plans to attend a three-day seminar this June in New York City, this time as a junior Counselor.

“HOBY is something that I will remember my whole life,” said Kotz. “HOBY gave me a new perspective on the role of the country in which we live.”

In other school board news, the district is looking to offer six full scholarships to Bridgehampton students for the Summer Rock Camp, a weeklong music camp for students ages six to 17 that the school is hosting with Hudson Music Studios.

Nine exterior lights around the school building have also been replaced with LED bulbs, which are expected to “use significantly less electricity,” according to district business administrator Robert Hauser.

“I’m told the life expectancy should be 25 years,” added Hauser who said the lights cost the district about $5,200.

Beginning July 1, there are over 25 projects, described by Hauser as “improvements or minor repairs,” set to take place at the school over the summer. The board is also looking into ways to improve security by installing a vestibule door with a buzzer to accompany the front door.

“Is there any way that it won’t take two years, that we can get it done before the end of the summer?” asked Nicki Hemby, school board president. “Let’s just do it.”

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