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GUEST COMMENTARY: Here’s a great opportunity for student leaders

April 20, 2018
By MARTHA PRITCHARD SPEAR , Lake Placid News

A letter to Lake Placid area high school student leaders:

Do you have what it takes to become a dynamic leader and change not only yourself but the world? April 30 is the deadline for local high school student leaders to apply to attend a free weekend leadership development retreat at St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario. Rotary Youth Leadership Academy is an intensive leadership experience organized by Rotary clubs and districts where you develop your skills as a leader while having fun and making connections. This year's dates are Friday, June 8 to Sunday, June 10.

The Rotary Club of Lake Placid will send up to three students to RYLA this year, and we are looking for applicants now. What do people experience at the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy? You mix and mingle with other high school students from Quebec, Ontario and northern New York, with guidance from adult Rotarian volunteers. This provides you with a unique opportunity to learn about different communities and cultures. You also learn about yourself and your values as well as have fun. Students come away from the experience having developed a program for implementation in their school or community, and many new friendships.

Patrick Quinn, a 2017 graduate of Lake Placid High School, attended RYLA when it was held at Paul Smith's College in summer 2017. Recently we shared breakfast at the New Leaf Coffee Shop in Lake Placid so I could ask him about his experience and find out why he recommended it to other students. He really loved his RYLA experience. He made friends he still talks to.

"You meet other like-minded individuals," says Patrick. "Yes, there are fun workshops and sessions, but nothing is more memorable than the people you meet and the experiences you have with them." Those people are "kids who are already leaders and want to go out of their way to help the community. It's not going to change you; it's going to strengthen you." Patrick also observed, "We live so close to Canada, but we don't utilize it - we're closer to Canada than New York City, yet we don't go to Canada on the weekends! There's a lot we can learn and take away, and vice versa."

At RYLA, in addition to connecting with student leaders around the region, you practice communication and problem-solving skills. You discover strategies for being a dynamic leader in your school or community. You learn from community leaders, inspirational speakers and peer mentors. You will unlock your potential to turn motivation into action.

One thing to consider is that you must have a passport or passport card to participate in this year's RYLA. These may be applied for through the U.S. post office. The cost can be as low as $30, and the Rotary Club of Lake Placid will assist those families for whom that fee is an obstacle - just ask.

RYLA will teach you skills you will use the rest of your life. Rotarians Susan and Harris Semegram's son Richard benefitted from his RYLA experience, having been nominated to attend by his high school counselors. RYLA's activities brought Richard's leadership potential and communication skills to the forefront. His parents believe RYLA definitely contributed towards Richard's graduation with honors from college, leading to a fulfilling career as an attorney in New York City litigating tenant law.

To get involved, please go to this web page, rotary7040.com/page/ryla, or just Google "RYLA District 7040." There are some forms to fill out. Contact your school principal to let them know you are doing this. In Lake Placid that's Dana Wood at dwood@lpcsd.org.

Contact the Rotary Club of Lake Placid at rotarylakeplacid@gmail.com or www.rotarylakeplacid.org, and let them know you are going to apply.

Thank you for thinking about attending RYLA 2018. The Rotary Club of Lake Placid wants to meet you and talk about this opportunity. Be in touch soon. The application deadline is April 30.

Martha Pritchard Spear is president of the Rotary Club of Lake Placid.

 
 

 

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