Seniors represent PCHS at Inaugural Supt. Student Leadership Forum

Brooklynn Deckman – PCHS Bulletin

On March 5, select seniors from across the Manatee County School District got the opportunity to attend the inaugural Superintendent’s Student Leadership Forum at Southeast High School.  

Four seniors represented Parrish Community High School: Jocelyn Lerma, Sullivan Morris, Jack Davis, and Holten Graham. 

Jack Davis, Holten Graham, Jocelyn Lerma, and Sullivan Morris having a conversation with one of the forum speakers.

(Photo Credit: Manatee County School District)

Lerma is the secretary of the Senior Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Student Government Association and Key Club. Following graduation in May, Lerma plans to attend State College of Florida (SCF) to get an associate degree of science in radiography and become a certified radiographer. 

Morris is the co-president of the Student Government Association, a team captain of the Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams, and a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), Senior Advisory Board, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). In addition, she is a full-time dual-enrollment student at State College of Florida. Morris plans to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree in business and finance. 

Davis is the Executive Officer (the second-highest rank in JROTC) in the chain of command for the Bulls Battalion. The Cadet Major is a part of the Rifle Team, which placed 5th in the state this year. Davis received a four-year ROTC scholarship to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and plans on becoming an Army Aviation Officer in the Alaska National Guard. 

Graham served as a captain of the Varsity Football team this past season. The outside linebacker has been involved with the football program since his freshman year. Most recently, Graham’s leadership and defensive work played a role in the team’s first playoff berth in school history. He plans on pursuing an AA degree at SCF, then transferring to the University of Florida to pursue a major in Agriculture Operations Management. 

“The students for this event were selected from a group of senior leaders recommended by our school counselors,” PCHS Principal Daniel Bradshaw said. “From this larger group, students were selected that represented a variety of student groups on campus.” 

“I feel honored that I was nominated for this event,” Morris said. “Various students were chosen to collectively represent the diverse student population, and I am thankful for the opportunity to represent a portion of the school.” 

Davis said he was also honored, “not only to represent JROTC at Parrish, but also to represent Parrish at the district level.” 

The seniors spent the day participating in small group discussions on several topics around the district, such as safety, college and career planning, student health, and technology, to name a few. In addition, the students connected with multiple school district and community leaders to learn about how they could advance their leadership skills in the future. The goals of the forum were to learn from each other, discuss leadership and schools, and look ahead to the future. 

Davis called it “eye-opening” to speak with top school district officials. 

“It gave myself and other leaders around Manatee County the ability to discuss issues with these community and district leaders,” he said. 

Lerma said that she was able to learn about the different roles in the district and why certain things in schools are enforced the way they are or aren’t done at all. 

“I know a lot of students don’t understand the reasoning behind a school policy or why we don’t have a certain program, and I was able to get answers to some of these questions,” Lerma said. 

Morris said she spoke with Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown and got valuable insight on leadership.  

“He [Mayor Brown] emphasized that he does not simply lead Bradenton, but that he is constantly seeking ways to be more involved in the community and help those around him,” she recalled. 

Graham said talking with Mayor Brown was a highlight of his experience. 

“It was very cool to hear about his everyday life and how he tackles problems so that he can be a great leader for the county,” he said. 

Superintendent Dr. Jason Wysong expressed his appreciation to the seniors in attendance for their honest input. He added that he intended to use the feedback when making future decisions about schools. 

“Working together is the most effective way to accomplish a shared goal,” Lerma said. “I also learned how the various high schools work and what we can do to improve them by considering the various opinions of students, parents, and teachers.” 

Graham said that he enjoyed hearing from other seniors “about how they try to accomplish their goals and the many things they do in order to be an accomplished leader for their school.” 

Morris said she found it “interesting” to hear the perspectives of other seniors from other schools and said that the Superintendent shared some valuable knowledge about the role of being a leader.