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Young Leaders in Action are Grand Showcase Champions
Rep. Kenny Imes, sponsor Karen Dean, Emma Whitlock, Gracie Lusk, Kate Harper Hogancamp, Riley Barber.

Four Hickman County Middle School students set out to convince local officials that the sidewalks in Clinton, the county seat, were awful and needed to be fixed. Kate Hogancamp, Riley Barber, Gracie Lusk and Emma Whitlock traveled the sidewalks and took photos of the worst ones then they turned the photos into a powerpoint presentation. They took their story to the Hickman Fiscal Court, the Clinton City Council and local Rotary Club. Their project became part of a middle school wide work day as students cleaned and shoveled dirt from sidewalks that had been long neglected.

The effort was Hickman County's entry into the Young Leaders in Action Competition sponsored by Murray State University. The program encourages students to identify a community or school problem and come up with a solution.

In a school wide email, Principal Kevin Estes announced the contest results to the school community.

"These young ladies beat 9 other regional middle schools to win the Young Leaders in Action Competition sponsored by MSU. Their project on sidewalk improvements for the City of Clinton impressed a huge panel of judges to take Grand Showcase Champions. Their project will be sent to the National Legislative Conference in Dallas, Tx to compete against other Young Leaders in Actions...

...Each student and teacher/sponsor (Mrs. Karen Dean) won a color printer to go with the laptop computer they received at the beginning of the competition. These students have worked hard since September 2015 with finding a community issue, researching potential solutions, meeting with civic and government groups and officials, working on improving the sidewalks with community service, and finally presenting the project to a large group of judges at MSU."

The students' awareness campaign has not fallen on deaf ears. The local Rotary Club adopted the sidewalk across from their meeting building for repair. City officials are sending out maintenance crews to continue to clean and salvage sidewalks that have needs short of total replacement. Plans to request grants for sidewalk repair along student walking routes to the schools are in the works.

Four seventh graders won more than printers and a trip to a national competition. They won the confidence to identify a problem and bring it to the forefront in a positive problem solving way. It's what the Young Leaders in Action Competition is designed to do.


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