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Staff Reflection: Tim Leighton

Posted: Monday, October 10, 2022 - 3:02 PM

Staff Reflection: Tim Leighton

League Staff member Tim Leighton shares a reflection on the work of the Board of Directors.

A gavel, a small ceremonial mallet, calls a business meeting to order with authority when it strikes a small sounding block. The sound is distinctive as it makes contact with the hardwood surface and resonates to all in attendance the message that it is time to engage. The engagement process, though, occurs one step earlier during a gathering of the Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors.

Instead of all eyes on the Board President, attention is honed on the Board Member asked to provide an opening reflection. These reflections are powerful and can carry an array of themes, be it fun interactions with constituents of the member schools or powerful, emotion-filled moments that bring into view the League’s mission and values. The latest edition of these testimonials came last week, Thursday, Oct. 6, from Board Member Jeanna Lilleberg of Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, one of two board members that represent the Minnesota School Board Association.

Lilleberg immediately grabbed the attention of the Board of Directors with an unscripted and powerful account of being the liaison of information from the League level to the communities she serves. Her passionate, 5-minute testimonial was riveting and ended with this proclamation to the board: “Create lots of activities and opportunities for students and let them choose from them.”

Smiles ensued and it set the tone for a Board Meeting where an agenda was pursued with passion and purpose.

What followed during the business meeting was a process illustrated bimonthly when the Board of Directors gather to carefully consider with deep dialogue and reflection the proposals that come their way. During this month’s meeting, there were a number of activities advisory proposals and other Action Items brought forth on behalf of student participants. And in many cases, the decision-making paved the way for a myriad of new opportunities via co-curricular activities for participants in the more than 500 member schools that make up the League.

Among them:

  • Clay Target --- One of the fastest-growing high school co-curricular activities in the nation over the past decade, this activity took another step in its development when the Board of Directors approved a girls-only division at the Clay Target State Tournament. The approved action provides an opportunity for the top 25 females to participate in their own individual division. Minnesota remains the only state association in the nation to have a presenting partnership with Clay Target. “This is really exciting for everyone,” said John Nelson, president of Minnesota-based USA Clay Target. The Clay Target State Tournament is held in late June and is the final event of the League’s calendar for the school year.
  • Music --- A Guitar category was approved for section level contests. The approval adds these events: Guitar Solo, Guitar Ensemble (2-4 participants), Guitar Ensemble (5-16 participants) and Guitar Orchestra (8-30 participants).  
  • Alpine and Nordic Skiing --- Affirmed an Executive Committee decision to provide Alpine Skiing with its own state meet date followed by Nordic Skiing having its time at center stage. Originally, there would be a scheduled overlap of the two state tournament events.
  • Speech --- The Board of Directors approved two proposals. The allows body contact during the introduction of Duo Interpretation participants. Examples include shaking hands or a dance move. The second proposal allows participants In the Extemporaneous Speaking category to use computers and the internet to conduct research during the preparation period.

The League’s Board of Directors also heard an update from the “Together We Make A Difference” regional meetings that have taken place over the past month. The Board of Directors fully supported the initiative that has witnessed participation from more than 1,500 students and more than 150 member schools as school communities listen and learn from one another during challenging times. The sessions are led by Forbes Solutions and supported by League partners that include MASA, MASSP, AMSD, MnIAAA, MSBA and MSHSCA. A statewide event is planned for late November or early December.

While a fruitful meeting like last week’s was certainly reason to relish, work will continue for the 22 members of the Board of Directors, who serve four-year terms and meet six times in-person during the school year. On the opposite months, they meet in a workshop session in a virtual format. During this school year, Troy Stein, the Activities Director at Edina High School, serves as the board president.

With State Tournament events beginning this month, you are certain to see the Board of Directors as part of the awards ceremony following the conclusion of competition. In most cases, they will be the ones wearing the black blazers and the broad smiles. You see, they are just as thrilled to be a part of the state tournament experience as the participants and their communities.

For them, though, their service begins in conference rooms, extends to the board table, and hits a crescendo when hearts are filled and state tournament memories are made.

A girls-only division was approved by the Board of Directors on Oct. 6, 2022

The League's Board of Directors approved a girls-only division in the individual competition of the Clay Target State Tournament beginning in the Spring of 2023.

Photo of students playing guitar

The League's Board of Directors approved expanded opportunities in the Guitar category during its meeting on Oct. 6, 2022.

Board Members presenting awards.

One of the important roles played by the Board of Directors is honoring students from member schools during the award ceremonies of state tournament events.

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