Area high school students volunteer, gain new experiences

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A select group of sophomores from area high schools have been active this spring volunteering their time with Lafayette County Literacy Council, Lovepacks, and assisting in the coordination of a blood drive as part of their involvement in the 2016 Junior Leadership class, a program sponsored by the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.

“The program attempts to identify young leaders in the Oxford and Lafayette County schools, as well as home schooled and local private schools,” said Pam Swain, senior vice president of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and program administrator. “Through the program, efforts are made to motivate them and assist them in sharpening their leadership skills, in the hope that they will exert a strong, positive influence on the future of Oxford and Lafayette County.”

The Junior Leadership Program is sponsored for the second consecutive year by a local business with mutliple locations all over the county, Your Extra Closet, owned by successful business leader and entrepreneur Floyd Hubbell.

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Participants in this year’s class from Lafayette High School include: Elaina Dickerson, Lakynn Hillhouse, Tate Howard, Core Lawrence, Hogan Linzy, Halle Moore, La’Kyjah Shaw, Sarah Beth Tidwell, Kaitlyn Traylor and Emma Wilson.

Participants from Oxford High School include: Grace Dyer, Andrew Gardner, Jimmy Green, Mary Clark Hayward, Anna Blake Lively, Aubrey Merrell, Addison Mills, Matt Redfearn, Anna Renfroe, Drew Tacke, Sarah Katherine Waller and Carlisle Yoste.

The program combines group community leadership sessions with a community project that requires the use and development of leadership skills, Swain said. Students participate in training sessions geared toward promoting team building, goal setting, community awareness, volunteerism and communication skills.

The Junior Leadership program began the first week of February with the introduction of group volunteer projects. Throughout the course of the program, students will have the opportunity to meet and talk to medical professionals, government leaders, university professionals, criminal justice professionals, art leaders, local business leaders and leadership speakers.

The program will wrap up the second week of April with a graduation dinner for the participants and their parents. At this time, the participants will make oral presentations, putting their leadership skills to good use, Swain said.

“Through these sessions they see the variety of professions and services offered here in Oxford,” said Junior Leadership Chair Lolita Gregory with Mississippi Blood Services. “Going through this course may give them a better understanding of various jobs and help in making future career decisions. We would love to see these students remain in Oxford in the future and want them to see all our community has to offer.”

The program started in 1998 and has successfully graduated nearly 450 participants.