S2 Success Summit in Loveland inspired and motivated high school seniors to chase greatness | MyWindsorNow.com

S2 Success Summit in Loveland inspired and motivated high school seniors to chase greatness

Mary-Kate Newton
mnewton@greeleytribune.com

Mark Hoog, a Windsor resident, started the S2 Success Summit last year after realizing a void in motivational conferences for the average high school student.

He said for those interested in political or religious leadership, there are conferences, but for the average college student that is neither a 2.0 nor a 4.0 grade point average, there aren't conferences that celebrate the talents of the average student.

"We figure regardless of what someone's path is, whether that's going into college or entering the work force, this message is about leadership and pursuing success however you view that," Hoog said.

The second Student Success Summit was held Wednesday at The Ranch in Loveland in front of more than 1,000 high school seniors and administrators. Around 300 students were from Windsor, as well as students from Greeley, Colorado Springs and Boulder.

Students from about 40 states — even a school from Austria — registered to watch the summit online in simulcast.

Hoog said the Summit's early popularity came from word of mouth between schools and the unique message.

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"There are a lot of talks about how to take the ACT, how to build a resume. But there's not a lot out there about how to pursue your true potential. This is the only conference we've seen that shares that idea with youth," Hoog said.

The first speaker was motivational speaker Tish Norman.

"I didn't consider myself to be popular and I didn't have the best grades, and I thought that my skills and abilities were inadequate," she said Wednesday.

She talked to the crowd about her various pursuits in life, including a story about her ponytail unraveling during an audition to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson. She said through the changing of her dreams and identity she discovered the importance of presenting herself positively, cultural competence, choosing friends wisely and more.

Windsor High School student Hannah Thompson said Norman's talk was moving to her.

"Choosing my friends carefully has always been something I practice, so that really resonated with me," she said. Thompson is looking to attend college to be an art teacher.

The dreams of students around her varied: aspiring meteorologists, occupational therapists and dance teachers.

The University of Northern Colorado was one of the event's sponsors, and admissions counselors presented an online code to waive the $49 application fee for students at the Summit.

The Fort Collins band Shatterproof performed, and the other speakers included emcee Dave Gamache, Magician Reed Barrett and Kevin Bracy.

Hoog said events like the Summit are part of his nonprofit company, The Children's Leadership Institute's, mission to spread a message he received early in his 27-year career as a United Airlines pilot.

Jason Dahl was the pilot of Flight 93, which was hijacked by terrorists on 9/11. Dahl was Hoog's mentor and evaluator with United before dying in the crash.

It was a message from Dahl that inspired Hoog's company, which now spreads that message through books and motivational speaking.

"He told me, 'People talk about others for only a few reasons, if they're dying, dead, one of the best or one of the worst in their field. No one talks about the middle.'" Hoog recalled. "He was about pushing people to make a difference and give whatever it was that they could."