Local 22 graduate from Chamber’s 2017-18 Youth Leadership Class | The Cullman Tribune

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22 graduate from Chamber’s 2017-18 Youth Leadership Class

On Thursday evening, May 17, 2018, 22 local high school students graduated from the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2017-18 Youth Leadership Class. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

CULLMAN - The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated the graduation of its 2017-18 Youth Leadership Class Thursday evening, with 22 local high school students and their families gathered at Stone Bridge Farms for the event.

This year’s graduating class included: Sydney Newton and Matthew Blair from Cold Springs High School; Mary Kate Stanford from Cullman High School; Klowy Barrett, Iva Burdette and Nolan Warner from Cullman Christian School; Kristen Hayes and Riley Carroll from Fairview High School; Lindsey Couch and James McWhorter from Good Hope High School; Chandler Lane and Tess Mirella Brown from Hanceville High School; Kara Hollis, Hailey Crumbley, Korey Butler and Seth Self from Holly Pond High School; Paige Tackett and Shiloh Walker, who are home-schooled; Elliott Deep and Emma Pierce from St. Bernard Preparatory School; Trey Boland from Vinemont High School; and Sadie Junkins from West Point High School.

Youth Leadership Co-Chair Wes Moore was one of the ceremony’s speakers; he talked about some of the opportunities he has seen this program yield in the past as well as the potential he sees in this year’s class.

“Some of the things that I wanted to let you know, I went back through and looked at some of my friends that went through this program, those after me and those in my class, and through this program we have had graduates who have become doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, managers of different businesses, educators, administrators, accountants, engineers, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, business owners, a newspaper editor in Los Angeles, and the list goes on and on. Looking through the students in this class, these graduates, you’re going to do the same thing. You’re going to make a difference in this world,” Moore said. “There’s a couple of things I want you to remember. I want you to remember that a leader is honest, that they’re inspiring, committed, passionate, decisive, accountable, creative, thankful, empowering and they have to be a good communicator. You may not have all those characteristics right now, but you’re molding and you’re working towards that, to become a better leader. I’m just so proud of this class, they’ve done a great job, they’ve worked really hard and we’ve really enjoyed it.”

Before the graduates were officially presented, they divided into groups and made their way to the podium to talk about some of their favorite activities or programs they participated in during the year. Sydney Newton, Matthew Blair and Sadie Junkins talked about “Experiencing Leadership day;” Mary Kate Stanford and Klowy Barrett recapped “Tourism & Community Day;” Iva Burdette and Nolan Warner discussed “Education & Etiquette Day;” Kristen Hayes and Riley Carrol took “Quality of Life Day;” Lindsey Couch and James McWhorter touched on “Public Safety Day;” Chandler Lane and Tess Brown covered “Local Government Day;” Hailey Crumbley and Korey Butler talked about “Business & Industry Day;” Trey Boland and Emma Pierce spoke about “State Government Day;” and Paige Tackett, Shiloh Walker and Elliot Deep explained “Agriculture Day.” All the groups of students had different takeaways and things they remembered the most, but the common theme was that they got to see parts of the community they hadn’t experienced before, whether it be agriculture, government, education or industry.

Chamber President and CEO Leah Bolin sent the graduates home with a message about how much this program means to her and how much she enjoys seeing students grow throughout the year.

“Tonight is always one of my very favorite nights because when these students come in on those first interviews and they’re trickling through the Chamber and they’re scared and they’re nervous and then today they come up here and they get in front of all of you and give a speech and talk about the things they’ve done. The growth that occurs in this year is always amazing to me,” she said.

“Thank you for letting us have your students for a year; you have done such a great job raising them. We’re excited about their career path and the things they’re going to do in the future and like many have said tonight, our hopes and dream are that these students will come back to Cullman or they stay in Cullman and they will be the leaders of tomorrow,” smiled Bolin. “We’re working on things at the Chamber right now to make sure that the quality of life that you’ve come to love and hope that you have for your children and grandchildren is here in 10, 20, 30 years. That your students have a job to come back to and that we can continue to make Cullman County the best place to live, work and play.”

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