Every year, Rotary Clubs across Alabama comb through hundreds of applications from students who want to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) weekend at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville in late January. Locally, the Rotary Club of Anniston awarded four students this honor, and they brought home the gold!
If you ask Pathways Academy Homeschooler Peyton Russell about RYLA, he’ll tell you it was a mountaintop and a valley experience. Donoho sophomore Maggie Miller will tell you about part of her crew “dying” when they didn’t follow (to the letter) instructions for leaving the “space vehicle.” Anniston High Senior Darionta Bell will recount learning to live with a total of 7 other guys in a “very small” dorm room—his first such experience. Julian Magadia from Sacred Heart High School will take you through your paces to learn the 4 Way Test. Each student adeptly told their story during a recent regular luncheon meeting of Rotary—and received enthusiastic applause from the 50 Rotarians attending.
During their two and a half days, these future community leaders heard from dynamic speakers on leadership and team building, as well as what Rotary is and does across the globe. The students this year were divided into 11 groups with each group assigned the task of creating a 501(c)3 organization. They had to learn how to work together to create a name as well as a letter of intent, purpose, and mission. Then, they had to figure out fundraising and develop a powerpoint presentation highlighting their visions. Darionta and Julian were in the group earning the overall first place for the weekend. Peyton was on the mountaintop when his group took 1st place for their letter and finished in the top 3 overall. Maggie’s group also finished in the top three. These students are the future of business, industry, and government. What a great hope they bring to our community! Congratulations to each of them.
Pictured left to right: Julian Magadia, Peyton Russell, Dr. Jeremiah Russell, Rotary Club of Anniston RYLA chairman; Darionta Bell and Maggie Miller.
—By Karen Fenn