The group at the Magic Kingdom earlier this month after the fireworks. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Gartner)
The group at the Magic Kingdom earlier this month after the fireworks.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Gartner

Disney leads students on an incredible ride

February 16, 2023

Disney Leadership

Due to a conflict with student council state conference and prom, StuCo switched things up and visited Disney World for their leadership conference this year,  in Florida Feb. 1-5 to learn about leadership during informative conferences and activities from people and executives at the Walt Disney Co.

Student body president Elizabeth Proctor said that StuCo attended the conference to learn leadership skills, and then apply them within the school.

The idea of attending came from StuCo senior campus sponsor herself, Kristin Gartner.

“I had heard about this leadership academy at Disney World, and the fact that it was very hands-on and I thought it would really be great for my student council leaders to attend,” Gartner said.  “And to kind of get a different idea of what leadership is from other people besides  just myself or you just our surroundings here at The Woodlands. I thought Disney with their executives, what an amazing opportunity that would be.”

The Imagination Campus in Epcot was were the students did their training earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Gartner)

The conference gave a great deal of insight to StuCo about leadership skills and abilities.

“Our leadership conference was super informative and really engaging and I think we all built some good leadership skills.” Proctor said. “They talked about different types of leaders and what it means to be a good leader on the level of just our school and the real world, and how we can use different leadership styles to make the school the best we can make it.”

Everyone got a lot out of the trip.

“They took us behind the scenes of Disney and we did a bunch of different leadership games.” senior class president Riley Pickett added “We learned how to, as a leader, take yourself down off the pedestal and just kind of help the people around you.”

Conference Outcome

StuCo got an even better deal than most high schools thanks to Disney. The trip was actually in place of the StuCo State Conference, held in Arlington, which TWHS’s StuCo couldn’t attend this year as it’s the same date as prom.

Even with the trip change up, quite a few members found new and refreshed meanings in leadership through the conference.

“Understanding the need from the people and what they want and being able to appeal to that and see everyone’s different perspectives. Trying your best to appeal to everyone but also understanding that you’re not going to make everyone happy.”  Prather said.

Picket gained her own understanding of leadership from the trip.

Inside the leadership training area at Disney. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Gartner)

“For me, I think just being a leader means being a team player,”  Pickett said.   “And working as a team but also being able to just help your teammates out. Like being there for one another as well as just the encouragement. I feel like every scenario, every game , we all worked together, we like bounced ideas off each other. And I feel like that really just helped overall make things run smoothly.”

Even Mrs. Gartner felt she had learned from the trip.

“It was neat to kind of refresh on what kind of leader am I? What kind of leader do I want to be? I mean I’m still learning, I never will ever say I know it all, and it was neat to kind of see and kind of examine myself.” said Mrs. Gartner.  “It was interesting because we would just naturally talk about it.” said Gartner.  “We kind of found ourselves referring back to the keys that we had learned and the core values throughout the whole time.”

Still, there were some that felt like more could have been brought to the table at the conference.

“I feel like we weren’t given many scenarios where if it’s like ‘this problem what do you do?” said Pickett. “I think it would have been interesting to see some of the problems that they face and like how they solve the problems at Disney.”

The approach of the conference seemed to still leave some insight to be desired.

“It was very much at a business level, and so I think that it would’ve been nice to have it kind of more appeal to high school.” said Prather. 

But Prather didn’t dislike the approach in its entirety.  “But I do think it was beneficial because in the future with jobs that we’re going to be having in the future and different positions that we are going to be taking up, we can apply those, we can apply those long term I guess,” Prather said.

The Parks

Of course, aside from being a part of the conference the whole trip, StuCo found the time to enjoy the theme parks for themselves.

Students had a chance to get a little ‘goofy” during their time at Epcot. (Courtesy of Kristen Gartner)

“We got to go to all four of the parks at Disney World. Because you know we had limited time, so we learned to work together as a team to all come to a common consensus on what rides we wanted to go on,”  Proctor said.

L to r, back row: Julia Ellis, Elizabeth Proctor, Owen Markel, Jack O’Rourke, Paige Tetlow, Riley Pickett, and Abby Gomez. Front row: Luisa Valdez, Caroline Mills, Emilia Villela, and Audrey Lowell at Animal Kingdom. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Gartner)

It seems as though they had a blast, not just with being at Disney World, but also having time with friends.

“It was amazing, it was so fun. Getting to be there with all your friends, and riding all the rides you want to ride. The whole atmosphere of Disney is just amazing.” Pickett said.

For Prather, being a Disney novice was a challenge.

“I’ve never been before, so we had Ms. Jeanes, who’s an AP, come with us, and she’s a Disney master. She was telling us how we should structure our day and how we should plan to go on different rides. She was telling us ‘you’d be lucky to ride everything once’.” said Prather. “We timed it right to where we were at the most popular ride first thing in the morning, and we rode it like three times before it got busy.”

Even the adults who went got to have just as much of an experience as the students.

It could not have been any, honestly, any better than it was. In my head I had visualized what I thought this was going to do for our group and it far exceeded my expectations.

— Kristen Gartner


“I love roller coasters.” Ms. Gartner said. “I think my favorite roller coaster was Slinky Dog, and it is in the Toy Story part of Hollywood Studios. I think I liked that one the best. It was very smooth, it was just a really cool ride. The funniest ride that I rode, the one where the four of us, Ms. Hart, Ms. Braun, and Ms. Jeanes and I laughed the hardest was the Millenium Falcon Star Wars part. We laughed so hard and still to this day are laughing about that particular ride.”

The four chaperones got into the spirit (L to r) Kristen Gartner, Jill Hart, Paige Jeanes and Laura Braun. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Gartner)

All in all, aside from the fun rides and cool theme parks, this trip gave StuCo a priceless opportunity to become better leaders and better students of TWHS. 

“I would recommend [this trip] to anybody who joins Student Council in the future,” Proctor said. “Definitely go, you will learn leadership skills and you will get to have so much fun and just forget about school for a little bit and relax.”

They learned a great deal of leadership qualities and now have the amazing ability to incorporate them into their everyday lives now.

“I feel like it was such an amazing experience to just go and go behind the scenes of Disney World. No one really gets to experience that,” said Pickett.

The trip left StuCo students and sponsors with an everlasting impression.

In one word to describe the trip, Gartner said “Perfect.”


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    AlakaiFeb 16, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    Dude this is great, so much more information then I thought I’d get coming on here. I like hearing about this type of stuff as well!