Atmore YLA class graduates

Published 11:57 pm Monday, April 30, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Graduates of Youth Leadership Atmore gathered Thursday night at Trinity Episcopal Church to receive their awards, enjoy fellowship with one another and listen to guest speaker, Alabama state treasurer Kay Ivey.
Graduates included, Courtney Bruley, Meghan Burkett, Sybil Chafin, Leigh Ann Everette, Elliott Faircloth, Jordan Gates, Emily Gehman, Olivia Godwin (not in attendance), Megan Gorum, Scott Jensen, Reginald Johnson, Charla Johnson, Clare Jones, Tamesha Knight, Janet McCaster, Jordan McGill, Jessica Pipkin and Blake Walker.
Some YLA graduates were given the opportunity to speak about their experience in the program.
Everette said she has made many friends throughout the duration of the program.
"The first thing that I gained was the friendship of all those great people," she said. "Coming into YLA I thought I would meet a few people, but I never thought that I would meet this many friends. During Camp Beckwith, all of us 'YLAers' mingled and bonded."
Everette said she has learned more about her own strong and weak points.
"I also gained a sense of my strengths and weaknesses," she said. "Mr. Chad (Green, YLA program director), along with our 'Trombone Wanted' videos, showed us how to assess our strengths and weaknesses and how to use them to our advantage."
YLA members also learned a lot about their community, according to Everette.
"From YLA I learned much about Atmore," she said. "My personal favorite days were History Day and Law Enforcement Day. It was so interesting to see how Atmore has grown and developed over the years. Touring the prison and seeing how law enforcement works was an eye-opening experience."
Everette said she enjoyed everything about YLA and that she will remember the yearlong program for the rest of her life.
"In every aspect, YLA was a great experience," she said. "I met wonderful people, learned a great deal about Atmore and myself, and made memories that I will hold forever."
Faircloth has also developed many friendships and has learned a lot through the YLA program, he said.
"Being an active member in YLA has allowed me to make many new friends and learn about differences of opinion," Faircloth said. "At Camp Beckwith we participated in many physical and mental activities that taught us how to work as a group instead of as individuals. YLA has also helped me grow individually through leadership skills, community involvement and working with others."
Jensen said he has learned two key things through the program.
"Don't ever do anything to go to prison," he said. "(And) Everybody has their own definition of 'leadership.' In my opinion, a leader is actually the person who shows the example."
Ivey spoke to the graduates about the advantages they now have because of completing the YLA program. She said the students have gained three key things, information, contacts and assets.
"You now have three advantages friends and family don't have," Ivey said to the students.
Ivey also gave the YLA graduates some advice for their future endeavors.
"Whatever you undertake, finish it," she said. "And whatever you undertake, be the very best you can be. There are three important words in 'American,' 'me' and 'I can.'

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