The graduation ceremony was held immediately after the final session of the program. To start the day, the young leaders completed service projects that they planned. One project included a pet supply and donation drive which raised $393.15 for the Hancock County Animal Shelter. The students presented the check and goods collected to the shelter and then helped clean kennels while providing affection to the animals housed at the shelter. Another group of students held a “SuperHeroes for St. Jude Walk-A-Thon”, a walk across the Bay St. Louis Bridge. Students actively sought sponsorships and pledges which yielded $1,306.00 in donations! For HYLA student Trace Rhodes, St. Jude is a very personal cause. His brother, Chase, was treated at St. Jude in 2010 for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and has been cancer-free for four years. Several of the students have been following “Team Glenda”, a young lady that is currently being treated at St. Jude.
Also during this session, the students learned first-hand what services and resources were available in the community by meeting with agency representatives of local non-profits such as the Hancock Resource Center, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Gerard Community Outreach, Hancock County Food Pantry, The WIN Job Center, and Coastal Family Health Center. These middle-schoolers not only performed service in the community, but learned the value of that service by engaging with the agencies 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.
“We could not be more proud of this young group of leaders who planned these projects on their own for worthy causes that they chose. Service is such an important aspect of leadership development and I am so pleased that they took their projects so seriously and raised almost $1700 to help organizations continue to provide such vital resources in our community” 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 2015 program: Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, Dr. William LeDoux, Southgroup Insurance Services, JEM, LLC, Mickey Lagasse/Compton Engineering, Representative David Baria, The Silver Slipper, Alexander, Van Loon, Sloan, Levens & Favre, RPM Pizza LLC, Mississippi Power, Edmond Fahey Funeral Home, Hancock Bank, Waveland WalMart, Brehm T. Bell, Southern Printing, Bay Waveland Middle School, Hancock Middle School, Our Lady Academy, St. Stanislaus College Prep, and the HYLA Advisory Board.
(Picture #1) Chloe Pounds (Hancock Middle) presents a check in the amount of $393.15 to Shawntel May (Administrative Assistant) of the Hancock County Animal Shelter. Also pictured are Donnie Gomillion, (Kennel Tech), Asa Grover (Hancock Middle), Serena Church (Hancock Middle), Catherine Authement (Hancock Middle), Hannah Pitalo (B-W Middle), Harleigh Lafontaine (Hancock Middle)
(Picture #2) Front Row: Marguerite Gelpi (OLA), Katie Ingram (OLA), Rosie Beckham (OLA), Isabelle Gelpi (OLA), Maddie Trapani, (OLA), Madison Wypyski (OLA), Ahmia Khadaroo (B-W Middle), Ruth Cooley (Hancock Middle), Kyle Merwin (Hancock Middle), Jaron Wolford (B-W Middle), Back Row: Trace Rhodes (SSC), Ronnie Aleman III (SSC), Peyton Sandrock (SSC), Derek McKenzie (Hancock Middle), Liam McKeon (B-W Middle), Alex Koons (SSC)