The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) Junior High Program Class of 2014 spent their most recent sessions learning about local governments and small businesses in the area by visiting with elected officials in Hancock County and its three municipalities as well as with businesses in Downtown Bay St. Louis.
The 2014 HYLA Junior High School Class is comprised of eighteen eighth graders from Hancock County who represent all four area middle schools. On Wednesday, February 26th, the group began their local government day by meeting with Mayor Les Fillingame at Bay St. Louis City Hall, where they learned about exciting new projects in Bay St. Louis. The group then met with Hancock County officials in the new Annex Building. The students interacted here with Supervisors Lisa Cowand and Steve Seymour, Tax Assessor Jimmie Ladner, and Circuit Clerk Karen Ruhr. The group also traveled to Hancock County’s Public Safety Complex, where they were given a presentation and tour by Chief Deputy Don Bass, which included a mock arrest and a visit to the armory.
Waveland City Hall was next on the tour, where the young leaders were greeted by Mayor David Garcia, Police Chief David Allen, and Fire Chief Mike Smith. Students toured the new building and learned of the struggles to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. The local government day would not have been complete without a visit to Hancock County’s newest city: Diamondhead. Here, Councilman Ernie Knobloch greeted the students and explained the incorporation process, including how the city’s maps were drawn, and discussed the Council’s plans for the city moving forward.
HYLA students were further immersed in Hancock County culture on Tuesday, March 11th when they took a walking tour with stops at the Starr Boarding House (current home to the BSL Little Theatre), the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum, the Train Depot and Mardi Gras Museum, and the Duck Pond. Students then embarked on a “shopping trip” in Old Town Bay St. Louis and met with merchants who demonstrated not only their commitment to their businesses, but to the community at large. Here, the young leaders learned the importance of small businesses in the local economy as well as their role in creating a thriving and vibrant downtown enclave. The morning ended with a delicious lunch at Cypress Café and a tour of the old City Hall by restaurant owner Holly Lemoine-Raymond.
The Hancock Youth Leadership Academy is the first and only county-wide youth leadership program in Hancock County. It was made possible thanks to an initial seed grant from NeighborWorks America and matching funds from The First, A National Banking Association. Moving forward, local community sponsorships are needed. Please consider sponsoring a session or making a general donation to support the ongoing operation of the Hancock Youth Leadership Academy. Invest in Hancock County’s future by cultivating its next generation of leaders: visit www.hancockhrc.org or call 228-463-8887 to learn how.
Picture -- Back row (left to right): Steve Seymour (Hancock County Supervisor, District 4); Reece Necaise (Hancock Middle), Thomas Weber (SSC); Jacob Wolfe (B-W Middle); Robert Williams III (B-W Middle); Jimmie Ladner (Hancock County Tax Assessor); Harrison Brewer (SSC); Thomas McArthur (Hancock Middle); Payton Smith (Hancock Middle); and Hannah D’Aunoy (OLA).
Front row (left to right): Michael Raymond (SSC); Cooper Grafe (Hancock Middle); Gabe Toepfer (SSC); Cameron Oberlies (SSC); Anna Grace Boxx (B-W Middle); Makenzie Mack (Hancock Middle); Kimberly Shiyou (Hancock Middle); Anna Peterson (Hancock Middle); Taylor Riels (Hancock Middle); Abby Guy (OLA); Lisa Cowand (Hancock County Supervisor, District 3); and Karen Ruhr (Hancock County Circuit Clerk).