Thursday, October 1, 2009
Youth leadership takes off in county
By SUE WATSON
The long-awaited Youth Leadership Marshall class got underway recently at the Eddie Lee Smith Multi-Purpose Building in Holly Springs.
Twenty-four students selected from six area middle and high schools are participating in this program which entails three training days.
Beth Randall, with Mississippi Extension Service, facilitated the sessions while teachers and principals and adult Leadership Marshall graduates looked on with enthusiasm.
Students participated in exercises that demonstrated listening skills and communication after several fun icebreakers where the students introduced themselves. Students were shown how important it is to be careful with words since once they are out of the mouth, they cannot be taken back.
Teamwork exercises began immediately with students working on group projects and playing “Bloody River,” an exercise that involved developing a strategy to get across a “river” on little wooden “rafts” while not losing contact with the raft.
Chris Cothern, whose adult leadership team chose the youth leadership course as a project, and many of her teammates were present as well as a teacher or principal from each school. Cothern works for First State Bank.
“We’ve been planning this since March, and the teachers as well as we who organized this have been excited about the selection of students,” Cothern said. “It’s really good to see the kids come together and cooperate. Our theme is for them to be a light in Marshall County and leaders in their communities and schools.
“We’ve had support from all the community banks to help pay for the program and make donations of goodies.”
The banks provided about $1,000 for the youth leadership class expenses so far, she said.
The students will hold their last session with the 2010 Leadership Marshall adult class in January, she said.
School leaders were excited to watch the youth take part in class.
Potts Camp Principal Leigh Anne Sanderson liked the idea of children from the different schools getting to know students outside their own school.
“I think this will broaden their horizons,” she said. “I think it’s good we are trying to develop leaders for our community.”
“It feels like a huge success,” said Rod Childers, a graduate of adult leadership.
He agreed that students mixing from different schools was the best thing about it.
“It’s good for the kids to start young and learn how to work together,” said Mayor Andre’ DeBerry, who provided welcoming remarks.
Hunter Hollingsworth, a graduate of adult leadership and a banker with the Bank of Holly Springs, said watching the youth leadership program develop has been exciting.
“It’s kind of like a little plant; you water and see it grow,” he said.
Marshall Academy Headmaster Jane Hubbard thought an important element was for the students to meet kids from other schools.
“I absolutely feel the excitement,” she said. “I hope this will lead to something bigger. I’m glad to see our kids get to know each other. I hope the students will come back and live in the community and help build community after they graduate.”
Kerry Williams, life skills science educator at Holly Springs High School, enjoyed the way the students were getting along with each other. It was her first time to participate in a leadership project.
Betty Payne, reading and social studies teacher at Galena, enjoyed the diversity of the students who were selected.
She is enrolled in a leadership development program at Ole Miss.
“This ties in with what we will be studying in leadership,” she said.
Principal Kerry Reed, with Byhalia Middle School, expressed appreciation from the banks who helped sponsor the youth leadership program and for the bankers coming out to join and support the youth class.
Byhalia Middle School pioneered the first youth leadership program in the county with the formation of the student Leadership Council, now numbering 26 at the school.
Sarah Sawyer, one of several who helped spearhead the adult Leadership Marshall program, was proud of the youth leadership project taken on by the adult 2009 Leadership Marshall class.
“I definitely want to recognize Chris Cothern, Rod Childers, and Hunter Hollingsworth who organized this,” she said. “I just think it’s awesome they took this project. Hopefully, it can lead into a six-month program like the adult leadership program.”
Youth participants are Kendrick Parker, Teresa Garcia, Shelbie Dalton, and Arkeeshia Nichols with Byhalia Middle School; Kendra DeBerry, Marquaveus Walton, Chasity Collins, Laniqua Collins, Emanuel Walters with Holly Springs High School; Amber Johnson, Tiearrica Martin, Roy Romero and Christopher Hardin with Galena School; Briana Cheatwood, Alan Shaw, Rachel Smith and Jose’ Ramirez with Potts Camp; and Lori Simpson, Wood Morris, Emma Elgin and Elgin Lafever with Marshall Academy.
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