Newberry Rotary welcomed a couple of Mid-Carolina seniors to discuss their leadership experience from this past summer.
Cornelius Glasgow and Yarelie Mitchell attended Rotary Youth Leadership Academy in June where they learned leadership skills along with citizenship, personal growth and how to serve their communities.
Glasgow and Mitchell were chosen from a wide pool of applicants and this year only two were selected to attend as they are sponsored by the Rotary club.
The cost is a little over $300, according to Mid-Carolina High School Basketball Coach Emmanuel DeWalt who is an associate director for RYLA and students are only asked to pay a minimal amount which is normally around $50.
The leadership academy is a week long program and is held at Erskine College.
Rotarians Melvin Evans and Rita Yarbrough selected the RYLA students to attend this past year.
DeWalt has been involved with RYLA since 1997 when he was a delegate at the camp for Union High and has served as counselors and is now an associate director. He is now a coach and science teacher at Mid-Carolina High.
DeWalt says his introduction to RYLA is a lot like other students in that he didn’t know much about it. He knew plenty about Palmetto Boys State and Girls State which often times is pushed ahead of RYLA.
He says that RYLA is all about being a servant and learning leadership skills.
“Every night (at RYLA), we honor students for dong nice things or going out of their way,” says DeWalt, “We focus on relationships and leaders step up first.”
DeWalt does say that over the past couple years, the RYLA participants have decreased. He remembers when there used to be about 90 students and lately it’s been about 65.
RYLA really needs the support of Rotary, he says, adding that the organization hasn’t really sent a lot.
Glasgow and Mitchell were thrilled that they were able to go.
Michell says that she had heard so much about Girls State and then heard about RYLA afterwards. She didn’t think she would be selected because only a few are selected from the school district.
She said that she is really glad she went and wants Rotary to continue sponsoring this for other students.
Glasgow heard about RYLA from the guidance counselors and enjoyed hearing from the leaders about overcoming things in life.
Not only was it fun, but he gained a lot of learning, he says.
RYLA is actually for anyone between 14 and 30; however, typically, the age range is narrowed to high school students age.
The program aims to demonstrate Rotary’s respect and concern for youth, provides training for youth and potential leaders, encourages leadership of youth by youth and recognizes young people for being committed to their community.
The students enjoyed meeting people from all over the state and are grateful for the opportunity.
They both strongly encouraged Rotarians to continue sponsoring students so that the students may have a once in a lifetime opportunity.