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The new Leadership Class posed Friday for their first group photo.

Row 1: Lisa Fujisawa, Haley-Marie Ellegood, Stacy Fujisawa, Amber Florence, Kristen Boaz, Jesse Broyles. Row 2: Brooke Jackson, Alisha Samuel, Kinsey Lock, Madison Ward, Max Jewell. Row 3: Peyton Rodriguez, Kayla Boaz, McKenzie Hobbs, Danielle Cruse, Hailey Dixon, Trent Stairs. Row 4: Bailey Clark, Jade Florence, Savannah Sublette, Rachel Jackson, Maiesha Simmons, Jonathan Reynolds. Row 5: Ben Wilson, Madison Mitchell, Kaylee Webb, Sarah Harpo, Noah Cunningham. Not pictured: Melody Russell.

Twenty Nine! Largest Leadership Class ever begins fifth year of program.

(Clinton, KY – September 6, 2013) – Twenty nine! That’s how many students will take part in the fifth Hickman County Chamber of Commerce Leadership program.  Two Hickman County High classes, sophomores and juniors, make 2013-2014 the largest class ever. Past classes have averaged 16 students.

The new Leadership Class has another first: this Class is the first with two sets of sisters. Twins Lisa and Stacy Fujisawa, and junior Jade Florence and her sister, sophomore Amber Florence, will be the first to participate at the same time. Because the program is a team competition, there’s a good chance the sisters will be competing against each other.  Several students in this year’s program have older siblings graduated from the Leadership Program.

The project is unusual because it is offered at no cost to students. Funds raised from the Chamber of Commerce, government and nonprofit groups, and the school system make it possible for all students, regardless of financial circumstances, to take part. Other youth leadership programs charge students up to $500 to participate.

Group leaders Ivan Potter, Melissa Goodman and Beverly Hopkins wrote the original program and have honed and refined it with each new class.  This year, Ivan’s wife, Mary, officially joins the team leaders. Volunteers also help the program throughout the year.

To accomplish the program’s mission statement, “to establish a new foundation for the cultivation and growth of inspired local leaders,” sponsors offer students opportunities to visit businesses and industries that are outside experience.  Business, industries, professionals and government officials welcome students into their buildings and their industries, taking an active roll in explaining what they do. Past classes have left the program with an appreciation of the work required to build a stove, create a ham, run an emergency room, a government, a state park.

This year’s class schedule begins with an overnight retreat at Bellemeade Cabin on September 13-14th. Students will hear presentations on current events, leadership skills, and will participate in individual and group activities. Requirements of the program, which includes ten hours community service to Chamber supported projects, writing a press release for media, will be a part of the retreat.

Before a school bus picks up the students at noon on Saturday, they will get their team assignments. Six teams have already been sorted by school personnel. Each team will then choose a real world problem to research from a list provided by the leaders.

Ultimately, each team will write a research paper and present a PowerPoint presentation at the end of the program in April. In the past, teams have studied small business development in Hickman County, medical needs in the area, youth issues, and marketing Hickman County. At the end of the program, team scores for volunteer work, press releases, research papers and presentations will be totaled and a winning team announced.

With the exception of the retreat, all leadership events occur during the school day.  Class work missed on a project or theme day must be made up. Attendance at scheduled leadership events is mandatory.  Students are also advised that they will have to do some work on their own.

Theme days begin right away. September 26th will be Business and Industry Day. The morning of October 15th will find the students at the local courthouses and government buildings for Law and Government Day. November 19th is Medical Day. December 10th is Tourism and Culture Day. January 30th is Agriculture Day. February 22d is an all day trip still in the planning stage. (Dates may change for issues unrelated to the program – like inclement weather.)

Research meetings are scheduled each month up until Sunday, April 28, 2014, Graduation Day.

Superintendent Kenny Wilson told students that the Hickman County Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership Program is the “best in the state.”  Everyone involves heartily believe it is.

Twenty nine students will soon go places they’ve never been, meet people they’ve never met, find skills they didn’t know they have, and think cooperatively and creatively as they never have before. 

The 2013-2014 Class is the biggest. They have the promise to be the best.


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