YOUth LEAD class graduates

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The high school leadership program YOUth LEAD held its fifth graduation ceremony on Thursday, bringing a close to the 2009-10 program’s class of 2students from Demopolis High School and John Essex High School.

YOUth LEAD is a youth version of the Leadership Marengo leadership program, and follows that group’s premise: to help build leadership through class experiences and programs.

“I feel like it was a very good year — again,” said YOUth LEAD board chair Catherine Meador. “We had great participation. We were also able to do our four sessions as well as attend city council and school board meetings.

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“The trip to Montgomery with the adult leadership group is always a pleasure. They get to mix with the adult leadership group as well as with other counties’ leadership groups. We had the special treat of seeing the gubernatorial candidates. We have some first-time voters here, so they got an inside look at the candidates themselves.”

Meador said that taking part in YOUth LEAD has many benefits for students.

“I think it gives them a concentrated look at leadership,” she said. “They certainly participate in groups, and they are able to be leaders in their schools, their clubs and church groups. This gives them three-hour sessions to focus on leadership and to improve on those skills and to learn more ways that they can be leaders.

“We don’t always choose students who are SGA presidents or presidents of other things. We try to work with the faculty of both schools to choose emerging leaders, potential leaders, those who are quiet leaders — a variety of leaders and leadership styles — so we can bring in a diverse group and learn more from each other.”

Several seniors said that being in YOUth LEAD would benefit them in their futures.

“Hopefully, this will help me in the future when I need to make decisions,” said Brooke Bryant. “I’ve learned how to step up and take charge, and I know that YOUth LEAD helped me to do that.”

“This program has helped me to learn to be a good leader and work well with others,” said Kourtney Jones. “I want to study respiratory therapy, so this will help me with people skills.”

“This program has helped me to interact with people and learn team-building skills,” said Shelby Western.

“I learned today what kind of leader I am, which is a conscientious leader,” said Ashley Owings. “This program will help me when I go to college by giving me confidence in dealing with people. I want to become a dentist, and I believe this program will help me in dealing with my patients.”

This year’s class included Kate Boland, Brooke Bryant, Dominique Chaney, Xavier Clark, Shamoneka Collins, Nyeshia Daniels, Jasminique Edwards, Shanice Gracie, Andrew Gwin, Sydney Hill, Bill Holemon, Dondrea Johnson, Annie Jones, Kourtney Jones, Fallon Keen, Elizabeth Manning, Ashley Owings, Trey Pickett, Jacob Roemen, Lindsey Thorne, Allen Tucker, Mary Morgan Tucker, Shelby Western and Alex Wright.

YOUth LEAD board members include Meador, Lucinda Mason, Kayte Melton, Katie Echols, Kathryn Friday, Lorissa Holder, Braxton Spahos and Valley Harrison.

Meador said that YOUth LEAD is made up of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Those who want to take part in YOUth LEAD should get an application from Lucinda Mason at DHS or Lorissa Holder at JEHS. Students will be accepted into the next year’s YOUth LEAD class at the end of the summer or at the beginning of school.