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Middle school students share plans for school improvement

The Alamance Youth Leadership Academy encourages young teens to plan ways of bettering their school environments in the upcoming year.


For students in seven Alamance County middle schools, there are plenty of improvement projects just waiting to be tackled in the fall, from replacing gym equipment to improving school lunch menus, from anti-bullying programs to even cleaning up the bathrooms.

These student leaders had an opportunity to share their many ideas Wednesday morning during the closing ceremony for the Alamance Youth Leadership Academy, where parents, teachers and administrators heard directly from the adolescents about making school a better place.

Students from Turrentine, Southern, Graham, Clover Garden, and Hawfields middle schools, as well as Blessed Sacrament School and Burlington Day School, enrolled in the academy, which brought them to campus from June 17-20. Co-sponsored by Elon University's Center for Leadership and the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce, the middle school leadership program now in its 10th year is dedicated to empowering youth through the connections of civic engagement and leadership development.

The AYLA program is an experience designed to cultivate community and promote civic engagement through the development of leadership skills, community awareness, cooperative relationships, and character education. Students from each school will work together on one area of interest to improve their buildings during 2012-2013.

“I am always impressed by the significance with which students engage the academy and desire to improve their school communities. Over time we have observed a shift in the students' interests,” said Rex Waters, associate dean of students at Elon. “The projects in the past have been focused more on topics such as facilities or equipment. We are now witnessing greater dialogue on the importance of relationships, inclusion of all students in their communities and sustainability.

"It is very rewarding to work with these young people as they work to discover their potential to positively influence their community.”

Barbara Massey, vice president of workforce and leadership development with the Alamance County Area Chamber of Commerce, welcomed parents and guests to the event, as did David Cooper, dean of the School of Education at the university.

"This was an incredible group of young people," Massey said. "To you, the parents, nothing like this happens without your support."

Elon University students helped facilitate the academy. They are:

Kerry Kurkjian
Madison Smith
Maddie Hooper
Nick Rourke
Mat Goldberg
Desiree Porter
Dana Hedman
Kathryn Knaus
Janice Spearbeck
Will Brummett
Donovan Rainey
Sarah Kowalkowski

Eric Townsend,
6/20/2012 4:51 PM