The 19th year of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership program kicked off with 10 seniors attending a daylong leadership retreat before the start of their academic school year. The students, selected in an application process, represent Bradley Central, Cleveland and Walker Valley High Schools and Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.
The Youth Leadership program encompasses eight months and gives the students opportunities to learn about the local economy, heritage and tourism, city and county government and services, and health and human services.
“This is a very different year for the Youth Leadership Program due to the pandemic we are all dealing with,” Sherry Crye, youth leadership coordinator, said about the 2020-21 class. “We had selected 26 students to be in the class but due to some new protocols by the school systems, we made the decision to only have the seniors complete the program this year. I am sure we will still face several challenges during the year, but we will try to have the best program we can for these ten senior students. This program will open their eyes to where their future could be and how they can lead.”
Following a presentation by Chad Fromm, Northwestern Mutual and a member of the 2006-07 class, entitled, “From the Pit to the Palace—Leadership Lessons from Joseph,” the students were involved in activities that focused on getting to know each other, team building, critical thinking, creativity and competition. The young leaders also reviewed different leadership qualities discussed in Ed Gerety’s book ‘Combinations -Opening the Door to Student Leadership,’ which was required reading prior to the retreat.
The 2020-21 Youth Leadership class will participate in a service project for Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland that will include a challenge for each school to raise funds for the local organization and an investment of “sweat equity” by working on a Habitat house or in the Habitat ReStore.
Members of 2020-21 Youth Leadership class from Bradley Central High School are Kelsey Carmen and Cole Haney. Representing Cleveland High School are Brayden Conn, Truman Hale and Jackson Ritzhaupt. Representing Tennessee Christian Preparatory School is Lillian Laman. Youth leaders from Walker Valley High School are Melody McRee, Connor Solsbee, Sidney Starr and Jia Weathersby.