Photo by: Nick Conley
A debate program that has benefitted students on campus in the past is now offering a way to help high school students in their futures.
“[The Four Star Leadership Program] has been going for six years now,” Vice President of Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Brian Bush said. “This is the fifth time we’ve had the event at Oklahoma Christian.”
Oklahoma Christian University students who participate will serve as counselors.
The program usually has five to 10 students helping out.
According to Bush, this program encourages 50 high school students from across the countryto improve their leadership skills.
“The program invites the brightest young leaders in the country to come together and try to find solutions to some of the problems that all generations face,” Bush said. “We try to find solutions that benefit everyone, and we try to avoid the trap that people usually fall into — everyone getting talked over and nothing getting done.”
Alumni Brandon McWaters said that this program played a vital role in him coming to school at Oklahoma Christian.
“It is the main reason I came to OC,” McWaters said. “I had actually never heard of the school before I attended Four Star. It gave me a chance to interact with like-minded students from across the country and cemented my desire to pursue a career path that would involve debate.”
The program got started with former General Tommy Frank and former Oklahoma Christian President Mike O’Neal who came together to help students develop leadership abilities.
The main skills that the program focuses on – the ‘Four Stars of Leadership’ — are character, communication, common vision, and caring.
“We believe that these are the qualities that make a good leader,” Bush said. “We look at policies from Washington, new bills going through, taxes, things like that, and we look at them from the point of view of those four qualities.”
According to Bush, this program gives students the opportunity to observe the country on a more in-depth level.
“We want students to take an in-depth look at what’s going on in our country, and have the ability to give a good response, not just a 30-second sound bite,” Bush said.
Students who attend the event won’t just be sitting in classrooms and listening to seminars, they’ll be going out and learning hands-on.
“The most unique thing for the program is the hands-on experience that we offer,” Bush said. “We take a day out and go to a Habitat For Humanity worksite, and they help out with that. We also tour a news studio to show how communication works. Students are also being trained on how to write editorials for newspapers and how to work in a group setting.”
The program is free for the students who are accepted.
“We pay for everything from airfare to boarding,” Bush said. “We want to make sure that a person’s finances are not an obstacle for those who want to come.”
Junior Hannah Ketring, also involved with the program during high school, said that it allows college students to assist high school students in fostering their leadership.
“It encourages students to think deeply on relevant issues while still in high school,” Ketring said. “I think it’s great that OC is offering an opportunity to help with a program that influenced my decision in coming to this campus.”