The hope, organizers said, is to encourage students to continue their leadership, even if it’s often not the easiest option.
A student planning committee helped choose the discussion topics, including a set of hypothetical scenarios that challenged participants to think about moral decisions involving cheating, stealing, drugs, sports and technology, Kassakhian said.
The group decided to focus on technology because of the great power it presents to students, which is sometimes abused, said student committee member Brandon Barbello, 17, a senior at Burroughs High School in Burbank.
One hypothetical scenario asked participants about using cellphones to text message answers to friends, and another asked about the search power of Google and the opportunity that it presents for plagiarism.
“It’s so easy to cheat, so easy to take advantage of people,” Brandon said, adding that although the morally right choices are often more difficult, organizers were trying to encourage a continuation of good behavior that could pay off later.
“You have to make sacrifices,” Brandon said.
Iman Khan, a 17-year-old senior at La Cañada High School, said the issue of technology was especially relevant.
“I think technology makes it really easy for kids to cheat today,” Iman said. “I think people need to decide whether they want to be ethical or not.”
Students said they were excited to connect not only with community leaders, but with students as well.
Diana Ardaryan, a 17-year-old senior at Hoover High School who participated in last year’s conference as well, said the sessions were especially helpful in relating to other schools.
“A lot of our problems were the same,” Diana said, explaining that cheating and stealing seemed to affect all students.
Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, who gave the event’s keynote address, said he thought examples of character, integrity and leadership were especially important when considering the fast pace that technology adds to the lives of students.
“What they have and what they take in is even more important today because it’s happening at a faster rate,” he said.