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Demopolis Public Safety graduates latest Youth Leadership Academy class

The latest participants of the Demopolis Public Safety Youth Leadership Academy completed the two-week program with an official graduation ceremony on Friday, June 22 at the Demopolis Civic Center.

This year’s class, made up of youths ages 11-15, was among the largest since the program was initiated as a public service program of the Demopolis Police Department in 2015.

Youth Leadership Academy participants during a tour of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. The students also visited the State Capitol and other sites.

This year’s academy saw several changes from previous years, most notably that it was opened up to students throughout Marengo County. The DPSD worked with West Alabama Public Transportation to provide transportation from other areas such as Sweet Water, Dixons Mill, and Thomaston.

During their two weeks in the program, the students participated in a variety of activities designed to educate and promote leadership. Along with field trips to the State Capitol, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, visiting historic sites in Selma, the Alabama Fire College, and even going fishing, the students also took part in physical fitness activities and learned about their local public safety departments. WAPT also provided transportation to these sites.

“It was a great opportunity to meet these kids and to teach them some things about what we do,” said Demopolis Fire Capt. Alex Morris. “We deal a lot with youth, sometimes with youth who are going the wrong way. What we have here is a group going the right way.”

During the graduation ceremony, the students heard from guest speaker Dr. Aliquippa Allen, a Demopolis resient who serves as the interim Dean of College and Technology at the University of West Alabama, as well as Demopolis Mayor John Laney who encouraged the students to continue experiencing new things.

“One of the things I hope you take away from this … always accept an opportunity to learn new things. If you are looking back, you cannot move forward,” Laney said.

Public Safety Director Tommie Reese also took time during the ceremony to thank those who made the academy possible, including staff and guest instructors, and local business sponsors.

This year’s Youth Leadership Academy class included: James Breitling, Richard Bryant Jr., Jaylon Flowers, Matthew Foster, Jamarcus Fuller, Ka’Breyia Hall, Rebekah Henton, Shantavia Jackson, Ahkiya McIntosh, Jarvis Packer, Marion Sewell, Tavion Shaw, Ezekiel Simpson, Jaydah Taylor, Jayden Taylor, and Nathan Williams.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, June 27 issue of the Demopolis Times.)