Pictured (L to R) are the 2013-2014 Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy cadets, front row: Paige Price, Krystal Sellers, Kasha Miller, Jada Antonides, Lillie Berger, Abbey Hartwiger, Nicole Eckert, Tennie Worrel, Tenaya Shull; middle row: Courtney Linnemeier, Veronica Flores, Kaelyn Mason, Kylie Mason, Elaine Warner, Autumn Kann, Hannah Jennings, Alex Eib, Nate Spangle, Grant Stichter; back row: Justin Ciriello, Nick Bergen, Blake Schritter, Hayden Dobbins, Caleb Klusman, Jacob Reynolds, Jake Mangas, Jonny Hollar, Brandon Eckert and Reid Mosson. Photo by Emily Cowan, KYLA
Pictured (L to R) are the 2013-2014 Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy cadets, front row: Paige Price, Krystal Sellers, Kasha Miller, Jada Antonides, Lillie Berger, Abbey Hartwiger, Nicole Eckert, Tennie Worrel, Tenaya Shull; middle row: Courtney Linnemeier, Veronica Flores, Kaelyn Mason, Kylie Mason, Elaine Warner, Autumn Kann, Hannah Jennings, Alex Eib, Nate Spangle, Grant Stichter; back row: Justin Ciriello, Nick Bergen, Blake Schritter, Hayden Dobbins, Caleb Klusman, Jacob Reynolds, Jake Mangas, Jonny Hollar, Brandon Eckert and Reid Mosson. Photo by Emily Cowan, KYLA
Twenty-nine juniors from five area high schools graduated Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy Wednesday during the annual banquet.
Two groups presented their White Paper Projects to attendees as a demonstration of the community projects students did during the 2013-14 school year.
KYLA President Christi Price also made several announcements during her welcoming speech.
The first project presentation was from Justin Ciriello, Courtney Linnemeier and Jada Antonides, all from Wawasee High School. For their service project, they worked with the Special Olympics of Kosciusko County.
Ciriello said they put on a fundraiser during a varsity basketball game between Wawasee and NorthWood. They put in 62 service hours for the project and raised $1,385.51 for Special Olympics, but all three group members said it had become more than that. They not only built new relationships, but also learned about respecting individuals with disabilities and learning to work with different kinds of people.
“This project was definitely worth it,” Ciriello said.
“It was nice to get out of our comfort zones and (grow),” Antonides said.
After the fundraiser, the three continued working with the Special Olympics. Linnemeier plans to go to Terre Haute June 6 to 8 to help local athletes at the summer games.
The other presentation was from Tenaya Shull from Tippecanoe Valley High School. Her project was to make people more aware of Riley Hospital for Children and the Ronald McDonald House. She showed a 10-minute video on why they were important to her and how they affected other families in Kosciusko County.
At the start of the dinner, Price said KYLA was celebrating its 20th year. The first KYLA class started in 1993-1994.
“The Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy was organized for the purpose of developing leadership skills in youth,” Price said. “Twenty to 35 juniors representing our local high schools participate in the academy. In our infancy we made several changes: We increased the number of sessions, with each class held at various locations in the area. ... A board of directors was approved and the board consists of (Kosciusko Leadership Academy) alumni, along with two at-large positions to be filled by members of this year’s KYLA class.”
At the end of the dinner, Price announced the 2014-15 at-large members will be Jacob Reynolds, Warsaw Community High School, and Shull.
In 2010, KYLA received 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, so it’s not qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions.
“We are always open to new ideas to improve the program,” Price said. “An example of that is in August 2000 we increased our class size from a maximum of 25 to 35 to accommodate a larger cross section of local students.”
She also stated, “We feel our leaders for tomorrow and the next few years are here. But the leaders for 10, 15 or 20 years from now are sitting in our classroom today.”
Price said that according to Peter Economy, there are nine traits that define great leadership, including: awareness, decisiveness, empathy, accountability, confidence, optimism, honesty, focus and inspiration.
“We feel at KYLA we have the leaders of tomorrow and we piqued your interested, encouraged involvement and helped to develop the potential of you as our future leaders. You are a special group of young people. We hope you will find this year to be a positive experience,” she concluded.
Invocation for the dinner was given by 2013-14 at-large board member Nolan Sponseller, Tippecanoe Valley High School. Guest speaker was Indiana District 22 State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, who also assisted in the presentation of diplomas.