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Middle school students develop leadership skills at Elon

The Alamance Youth Leadership Academy welcomed talented students from 10 area middle schools as part of a four-day program held June 15-18, 2014, on the university's campus.

Eighty-four students from 10 local middle schools took part this summer in the Alamance Youth Leadership Academy, a joint partnership between Elon University, the Alamance-Burlington School System and the Alamance Chamber of Commerce.

Hosted by the university’s Center for Leadership, the program empowers youth by connecting civic engagement and leadership development. Students from Blessed Sacrament, Broadview, Burlington Christian Academy, The Burlington School, Clover Garden, Graham, Hawfields, Turrentine, Southern Alamance and Woodlawn sent delegations to Elon’s summer institute, which ran June 15-18, 2014.

Students brainstormed strengths of their schools and generated ideas about possible changes that would improve their school environment, such as recycling, academic enrichment, community service and anti-bullying programs. Ideas will be evaluated and approved by school principals before students develop implementation strategies.

The AYLA summer program was coordinated by Elon University senior Kerry Kurkjian, who has served as the student director for three years. Elon students, alumni and interns served as facilitators and mentors for each school.

Additionally, staff members from the Center for Leadership, the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, New Student and Transition Programs, the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, the Office of Residence Life, and the Alamance County community helped the students to develop leadership and life skills such as courage, public speaking, teamwork, utilizing resources, collaboration and communication.

At the end of the program, AYLA students presented their top three ideas to other schools’ delegations, parents, teachers, administrators and community members. Barbara Massey and Mac Williams from the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, as well as Elon University Dean of Student Development Rex Waters, spoke to students about what it means to be a leader in the community.

AYLA began in early 2000 as a partnership with Turrentine Middle School designed to empower local youth to emerge as leaders in their school communities. Due to its success and impact, AYLA has expanded since that time with three schools joining the program for the first time in 2014.  

- Information provided by Stacey Rusterholz '11, Elon University's Student Life Fellow for Leadership

Eric Townsend,
6/24/2014 10:45 AM