For Immediate Release:
May 21, 2018
Hancock Youth Leadership Academy Graduates 23 Junior High Leaders
The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) held a graduation ceremony for its seventh class of junior high students on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at St. Stanislaus’ College Cafe. The graduation was the culmination of a program that began in January. Twenty-three bright young students displaying strong leadership potential from all four area middle schools were chosen to participate in the program. Over the course of the last five months, HYLA students engaged in a series of sessions that developed and strengthened their self-awareness and leadership styles, exposed them to local government and county and municipal administration to promote civic engagement, increased their awareness of the importance of small business and industry to the health of the community, and demonstrated the role of the arts in sustaining a community’s culture.
The graduation ceremony was held immediately after the final session of the program, and was sponsored by Walmart and Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital. To start the day, the young leaders completed service projects that they planned. One project included a “Color Run” benefitting St. Jude. Students received pledges prior to their run and raised $254 for St. Jude! The second group organized the “Cookie Credit for the Medics”. In association with National Nurses Week, this group of students prepared homemade goodies and delivered them to the nurses at Ochsner Medical Center – Hancock. This group of students also honored fire fighters by delivering similar goods to the Bay St. Louis Fire Department. The final group of students organized a “Special Day for Special Needs”. These students traveled to North Bay Elementary where they read a book to special needs students and participated in an art activity related to the book. The students also brought snacks for the students and accompanied them on the playground.
Students then learned first-hand what services and resources were available in the community by participating in an activity to understand the complex situations faced by the many families who interact with the social service system. This session’s activities provided the springboard to launch the students from the program, as they are now set to enter high school as young leaders with cultural sensitivity and a firm understanding of their community’s assets and resources.
“I am amazed every year at the service projects these young leaders plan and implement. Service is such an important aspect of leadership development and I could not be more pleased that they took their projects so seriously,” said Rhonda Rhodes, President of the Hancock Resource Center, who founded the Hancock Youth Leadership Academy in 2012.
The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy is the first county-wide youth leadership program in Hancock County. HYLA extends sincere appreciation to the generous sponsors of the 2018 program: Accelerated Physical Therapy, David Bassett, CPA, Brehm Bell, Betz, Rosetti & Associates, Clement Benvenutti, Attorney at Law, James J. Chiniche, P.A. Inc., Compton Engineering/Mickey Lagasse, Crane Builders, LLC, DAK Americas, Diamondhead Dental Clinic, Gus and Susan Gelpi, JEM, LLC, Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, Bert Keel, Jr. DMD, Kay Kell,, Dr. William LeDoux, Mike Meyers (State Farm Agent), John McDonald Realty, Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital, Mississippi Power Assoc., SABIC Innovative Plastics, Silver Slipper Casino, Southern Printing & Silkscreening, South Group Insurance, Dean and Marilene Taylor, Tellus Self Storage, Triton Systems, Inc., Rotary Club of Bay St. Louis, RPM Pizza, LLC, Waveland Walmart, Susan Williams-Allen, Bay Waveland Middle School, Hancock Middle School, Our Lady Academy, and Saint Stanislaus Prep.
(Picture #1) Devin Graham (OLA), Adisson Capo (OLA), Haley Cox (OLA), Brandon Rhodes (Saint Stanislaus), Ryan Ladner (Hancock), Gus Breisacher (Saint Stanislaus), and Christian Bourgeois (Saint Stanislaus) prepare to begin the “Color Run”, which raised $254 for St. Jude.
(Picture #2) Elisabeth Mooar (Hancock), Brandon Griffith (Saint Stanislaus), Urbano Mendez (B/W Middle), Keegan Leverett (Saint Stanislaus), Rachel Rowe (Hancock) and Maci Ladner (Hancock) present Shawn Cagle, RN with a basket of goodies for all of the nurses at Ochsner Medical Center – Hancock.
(Picture #3) HYLA students Naomi Robertson (B/W Middle) and Allie Lindsey (Hancock) read “The Hungry Caterpillar” to special needs students at North Bay Elementary.
For more information, please contact Rhonda Rhodes at 228-463-8887.