12/01/08 — Junior Leadership Wayne County teaches young community members valuable skills

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Junior Leadership Wayne County teaches young community members valuable skills

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 1, 2008 1:46 PM

For 11 years, Junior Leadership Wayne County has provided a chance for high school juniors to learn more about their hometown area and participate in volunteer service opportunities.

The program is open to students in private, public and home schools with a "B" average or above and a potential for leadership.

This year's class has 18 students, who meet for six full-day sessions from October through May. In addition to an orientation and graduation, areas covered including history and education, health care, business and industry, government and law and agri-business. They will also visit such locations as Wayne Memorial Hospital, the courthouse, a farm, manufacturing plant and the public schools' administrative offices.

Sudie Davis has directed Junior Leadership since its inception. She said it is always rewarding to witness students' growth through the program.

Lindsay Stutts even wrote about the "awesome" opportunity to learn more about the community and how to become productive future civic leaders.

"To be a leader, you need to be honest, have confidence, be responsible, be caring, be respectful, be positive and exhibit integrity," she wrote. "We also talked about how to be a good communicator. We need to be good listeners, be understanding and have organized thoughts so that our messages can be heard and received well."

Mrs. Davis said it is especially worthwhile to run into students even years later and get updates.

"As I see them out in the community, they talk about what a difference it made for them when they went off to college because they had a much broader understanding of what was available in the community, not only in Wayne County but in other counties, too," she said. "It's been very rewarding for me as I follow-up on these young people to realize what dynamic people they are, the professions they have gone into, the education that they have attained."

One prime example of that, she said, is a past participant who went on to obtain her master's degree at Rutgers University and now working on her Ph.D. at Emery.

But there are countless other success stories of those whose potential she recognized while they were involved in Junior Leadership Wayne County.

"We have several who are teachers here in Wayne County and I'm really excited about that because these young people are the perfect role models for the kids in our schools," she said.

This year's class members, in addition to Ms. Stutts, include Hollie Baker, Caroline Schlaeppi and Kevin Swan, all of Charles B. Aycock High; Brianna Benedict, Myeshia Bryant, Matt Jones, Reteva Jones, Victoria Royall and Miya Smith of Eastern Wayne High; Melanique DeVeaux and Norma Valentin of Spring Creek High School; Luke Howell, Hanna Kaler and Gina Wall of Wayne Christian, Curtis Bos, Sam Rouse and Daniel Sullivan, all home-schooled.