The Youth Leadership program, sponsored by the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce, teaches students about topics, such as public speaking and leadership.
Judy Bailey, director of the Gordon County Youth Leadership program, spoke to Kiwanis Club members about her contributions to developing the youth leadership program in the community at the Jan. 12 meeting.
“I have had a lot of parents and teachers say, it has made a difference,” she said. “It is for the good solid student who will make a difference in the community they live in,” Bailey said.
How can a student participate in leadership?
Modeled after the Gordon County adult leadership program, youth leadership is open to any local high school students and homeschoolers in the community.
Students must apply to be a part of the program. It is open to high school juniors and seniors, and it’s not based on a student’s grade point average.
Students take the course as a school class, and meet at a designated time each day. They earn a grade by participating in projects, meetings and field trips.
Youth leadership participants are involved in experiences outside of the classroom, such as team-building exercises and activities focused on leadership skills and teamwork.
“They do an outdoor orientation adventure course,” Bailey said. “It’s not a ropes course, but we do some things that you would do on a ropes course.”
In addition, high schoolers meet with city and county officials to see them in action during a monthly city council and commissioners meeting.
The culminating activity of the program includes participating in a mock trial and meeting the state representatives and senators on a field trip.
“It’s a real neat experience for the kids,” Bailey said. “They get to go to the floor and chambers of the Senate.”
Graduating from Leadership
Making sure every student attends field trips and community-focused tours is crucial to the program, Bailey said, and students are only allowed to miss one activity.
“Attendance is very important,” Bailey said. “If you miss more than once, you can’t graduate.”
Once students finish the leadership experience, there is a graduation ceremony for everyone who completes the class.
“I tell everyone at graduation they did great,” Bailey said. “I think every year the class gets better.”
Approximately 45 students are in the program this year, and space is limited. Any high school junior or senior interested in the program can get an application at their respective high school.