Youth leadership Flagler celebrated its second class of graduates Thursday, April 23, at Matanzas High School. Youth Leadership was created by Leadership Flagler 20, with the goal to teach students about Flagler County with the hopes of them wanting to return once they graduate college.
It’s built on the same premise as the adult leadership program, bringing the students around the community to expose them to different ideas and career paths. This year, the Young Professionals Group took over the program.
“The whole idea when we first started the program is that Leadership 20 would raise the funding, get it started with the help of chamber staff and get everything situated so that the YPG could take it on,” said Shannon Kenton, member of the Leadership Flagler 20 class. “That was the premise from the very beginning, so they could sustain the YLF experience for students.”
The hope is that the Yong Professionals Group is able to raise the funding to allow it to grow; which is happening next year with the increase to 12 students instead of 10. All fundraising done by the YPG including monthly socials and its annual Putt Crawl and Jingle Ball goes toward sustaining the Youth Leadership program.
“One thing that we want to get out to everyone is that this program is about building leaders,” said Kyeesha Cannon, YPG board member and Youth Leadership chairperson. “The kids don’t have to already be a leader in school to be part of the program. It’s really to create an interest, to create a fire, to create even a thought for their own future.”
The long-term goal for the program is to have 10 students from each high school participating in the program each year. Thursday, 10 students total, five from each school, graduated the program.
“I think one of the best aspects of it was that each session, you could take a learning point from it,” said Flagler Palm Coast High School participant Ally Erickson. “Even if it wasn’t your favorite, or thought you wouldn’t be interested in it, there was something you could take away from every one.”
Other graduates were Jonathan Ling, FPC; Devin Ritter, FPC; KcKenzie Smith, FPC; Zoe Wolfe, FPC; William Naughton, i3 New Tech Academy; Samantha Brown, Matanzas; Noelle Policastro, Matanzas; Sokret Pond, Matanzas; and Briana Rodrigues, Matanzas.