The LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce recently held a graduation dinner to recognize the 39 high-school students who completed the 2017 Youth Leadership class.
Presented by the chamber and sponsored by Jindal Films, the Youth Leadership program gives future leaders insight into how they can positively contribute to their communities and schools, reaching far into their adult lives.
This year’s class included students from La-Grange, Troup and Callaway high schools; LaGrange Academy, Lafayette Christian School, Springwood School and homeschooled students. The students’ first team building exercise required them to take part in a ropes course at Camp Viola. The teens learned to rely on their strengths and those of their classmates and gained the courage to tackle new adventures.
One of the highlights of the 2017 program was the opportunity to hear from, and exchange ideas with, LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz, West Point Mayor Steve Tramell and Troup County Commission Chair Patrick Crews.
The group also participated in sessions that focused on etiquette, under standing leadership, communicating effectively, appreciating differences and managing conflict, setting goals, and decision-making.
KeShun Freeman, a member of the 2012 class, reflected on his experience in the program and the foundation it created as he prepared for college in remarks to the nearly 100 students and parents in attendance.
“There were so many new faces,” said Freeman as he recalled the program orientation. Meeting new people and participating in other program activities, including the ropes course, discussing ethics and morals, the etiquette dinner and more “helped set me up for the rest of my life.”
“I’ve had quite a journey as a student-athlete at Georgia Tech. I’ve helped to build a house in the Dominican Republic, and traveled to Ireland to play football against Boston College. I never thought I would have the chance to do any of those things.”
Freeman, who was honored as the outstanding student in 2012, congratulated the class for being recognized as leaders and challenged the students to continue developing their leadership skills while embracing the opportunities to come. “Think of a leader as someone to follow who has the ability to help shape others. Grow and learn together and each of you can prepare yourself to be that type of leader.”
Monica Barber, Vicechair of the Leadership Troup program, congratulated the students on their selection. “Each of you should be proud to have participated in the Youth Leadership program. I hope you will encourage your friends to apply next year. We are always looking for young leaders to become engaged in the community.”
Each year, the class selects a student who has best exemplified the traits of a leader. John Reed Batchelor, a senior homeschool student, was selected by his peers as the 2017 winner. Batchelor will have the opportunity to attend the National Student Leadership Conference on Mastering Leadership in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2018.
This year’s graduates are: Lucy Alford, Lydia Alford, Samuel Asbell, John Reed Batchelor, Chloe Beall, Kennedy Bowen, Temima Brown, Sadie Bryan, Caroline Childress, Claire Anne Corban, Jaquavious Daniels, Anna Doerr, Lizzie Doerr, Cooper Doughman, Butler Evans, Will Flowers, Matthew Freeman, Cade Garner, Breanna Gay, Jaiden Gill, Montaveous Hall, Coleman Hull, Harrison Hunnicutt, Lily Kamat, Katie Lueken, Payton Moody, Jared Nation, Chelsae Nguyen, Carley Partridge, Matt Rainey, Aundracia Riggins, Henry Seonwoo, Cade Shadix, Ava Smith, Shaylee Smith, Trent Smith, Walt Stewart, Emma Strickland, and Ann Trainer.
This was the third year of an enhanced program developed in conjunction with the Georgia LEADS program of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute, whose mission is to grow quality leaders across the state.
For more information on leadership programs offered through the Chamber of Commerce, contact LeTisha Smith at 706-8848671 or letisha@lagrange chamber.com.