Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Rise Up: Youth potential and discovery highlights NSSSA provincial conference at StFX

February 21st, 2018
L-r, NSSSA conference co-chairs Patrick Wallace and Katelyn Libbus and NSSSA president Zac Foran

High school students from across Nova Scotia will have opportunity to learn about themselves and their leadership abilities when they converge on the StFX campus May 17-20 as the Nova Scotia Secondary Schools’ Association (NSSSA) hosts its annual provincial conference.

It’s a student-led conference all about youth potential and discovery.

And conference co-chairs Katelyn Libbus of Sydney, NS, and Patrick Wallace of Antigonish, NS, both first year StFX students, say along with a focus on learning, the conference will be a lot of fun—a weekend filled with energy and positivity.

“They will be learning about all aspects of leadership,” Mr. Wallace says.

Students will take part in eight skill-building sessions that will focus on topics from personal leadership to communication.

The conference, open to anyone in Grades 9-12 in Nova Scotia high schools, will also feature three keynote speakers, as well as a talent show and a dance.

The theme of the 2018 NSSSA provincial conference is ‘Rise Up,’ a theme of perseverance to help give students the determination to overcome obstacles, to know that even when life knocks them down, they can rise up and succeed.

“No matter what you do in life, you’ll always face challenges, you’ve always got to rise up,” Ms. Libbus says. “We want to teach people it’s okay to fail, that there will always be challenges, and to rise up.”

NSSSA president Zac Foran, a Grade 12 student at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School, says a goal of NSSSA, a provincial student-run leadership organization, is to host such conferences and help students build and develop their skills as leaders.

“The skills you learn at NSSSA, you get to see these skills shine,” he says, noting he’s seen the skills he’s learned at previous conferences be beneficial in school and in his work place. “Leadership is applicable in many aspects of life.”

“It’s building blocks for getting involved with your school and your community,” Mr. Wallace says.

While students are learning these skills, they’re doing so in a positive and fun environment, Ms. Libbus says.

It’s a very social event, they say.

Mr. Wallace says everyone comes with the idea of learning new things, having fun and enhancing their leadership skills.

“You meet a lot of new people, and you meet a lot of new friends,” he says.

“If you’re shy or scared, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll become comfortable. There are so many like-minded people,” Ms. Libbus says.

Along with the chance to meet new people, one of the benefits to attending the NSSSA conference is developing self-confidence, which carries on long after the conference has ended, Mr. Foran says.

Ms. Libbus encourages any students interested or considering attending, to do so. “It’s never too late for students to come try it, even if they’re in Grade 12 and haven’t attended before. You won’t regret it.”

The NSSSA provincial conference has been hosted on the StFX campus for the last number of years, and they say it’s been a great venue to host the event. 


Early bird registration is $285 before March 23, and $310 after March 23 to April 20, when registration closes.

For more information on the conference or to register, please see


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