Thirty-four area high school students have a better understanding of what it means to be a leader after six days studying at the first Central Ohio Leadership Academy held at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.

Thirty-four area high school students have a better understanding of what it means to be a leader after six days studying at the first Central Ohio Leadership Academy held at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.

"I learned a lot more about getting to know myself," said senior Alissa Barwinski of Dublin Scioto High School.

The students - all seniors - listened to guest speakers daily and worked in small groups with facilitators from the Ohio State University Student Leadership Advocates program from June 15-17 and June 20-22. Each day, they studied one topic about how to become better leaders.

"The end goal is for them to leave here with new confidence in themselves," said Tony Macerollo, one of the academy teachers. "Knowing oneself is paramount in leadership."

Macerollo teaches the leadership and civic virtue class at New Albany High School.

The Central Ohio Leadership Academy was developed this year by educators from the Ohio State Fisher College of Business, the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio and the New Albany-Plain Local School District. The New Albany Community Foundation and the Easton Community Foundation sponsored the academy.

To attend the leadership academy, students needed recommendations from faculty members at their schools and had to apply by answering a series of essay questions.

Craig Mohre, president of the New Albany Community Foundation, said the idea came out of the foundation's annual fundraiser, called "A Remarkable Evening," which usually features a famous author or nationally known speaker. As part of the event, the speaker usually meets with area high school students in an effort to help promote student leadership.

Mohre said 2008 speaker Walter Issacson called students to action, telling them that learning isn't enough and encouraging them to be engaged in their communities.

Many students took that challenge and made it their own. Mohre said they started several different programs, which sowed the seeds for the leadership academy, as the people involved began thinking about how to provide students with more leadership opportunities.

Throughout the six-day program, students learned from case studies about the qualities many leaders possess.

Ralph Johnson, a former New Albany-Plain Local superintendent who now works for the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, spoke to the students June 20 about emotional intelligence. He said research on leaders shows that people who are good communicators, who are logical, who can appreciate patterns in everything from numbers to music and who understand the importance of both inter and intrapersonal relationships have strong leadership qualities.

"Successful leaders are astute at managing their emotions," Johnson said.

Many of the students said the academy was beneficial.

"I think this will help me with my leadership skills and help with my profession I'm going into," said De'Chua Williams, a senior at Columbus West High School.

Bexley High School's Emily Rapport and Barwinski said they would use skills they learned during their senior years. Barwinski said she hopes to be a squad leader for her school's marching band and Rapport said she already has been chosen as student council president and is an officer in the school choir.

"I felt this was an opportunity for growth and reflection that I can use in my elected leadership roles this coming year," Rapport said.

Williams said the academy was very fulfilling. He said it taught him how to become an effective leader.

Rapport said the academy also provided her with a lesson on how important it is to be accountable for your actions.

"I learned how to take action and to be held accountable, not just as a leader, but as a person," she said.

Jordan Davis, one of four Ohio State Student Leadership Advocates who facilitated the students' small groups, said the world is so technology focused that it's important for students to learn how to be part of a discussion.

Zack Rubin, another of the Ohio State facilitators, said students would face many situations presented during the academy again and again throughout their lives.

"They are confronting dilemmas that don't go away," he said. "They just become tougher and stakes get higher. They get to hone their skills now in a safer environment."

New Albany seniors Hunter Lawhead and Mac Ferguson said the academy was beneficial because it was provided free to the participants and offered college credit through Ohio State.

The academy was funded through the partnership between the Easton and New Albany community foundations, so no cost was incurred by participating students. The students who completed the six-day course will receive two college credits, said Roy Lewicki, professor of business ethics and management and human resources for the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State.

Throughout the academy, students worked with Lewicki, Macerollo and Phil Koppel, a retired teacher from central Ohio. The facilitators from the Student Leadership Advocates were Sarah Beale, a senior majoring in leadership studies and sociology, and recent graduates Davis, who has a degree in political science and leadership studies; Maddie Luna, who has a degree in middle childhood education; and Rubin, who has a degree in political science and strategic communications.