KOSCIUSKO — The Kosciusko County Youth Leadership Academy welcomed the class of 2018-2019 for the first time at its September meeting held at Baker Youth Club, Warsaw. The event invited new members of KYLA to meet and learn about the organization and their peers.
KYLA students are selected to participate in the academy following the completion of a formal application process their sophomore year. Students selected to participate in the program throughout their junior year of high school.
Each year, students from six area high schools — Warsaw Community Schools, Lakeland Christian Academy, Tippecanoe Valley High School, Triton Jr/Sr High School, Wawasee Community High School and Whitko Community High School — are invited to participate in the program. These schools represent four counties including Kosciusko, Elkhart, Marshall and Whitley counties.
The September meeting began with an introduction on the program and the board by Tony Cirello, KYLA moderator. Cirello explained the mission of KYLA is to “take what is built within each member and enhance it.” In addition, Cirello took a moment to introduce students-at-large and provide important details on the KYLA weather policy.
KYLA Board President Carl Lauster provided the history of the organization following Cirello’s introductions. According to Lauster, KYLA was derived from a white paper project completed by the Kosciusko Leadership Academy. Lauster noted the project was written to stretch the goals and mission of KLA into the high school level. In 1995, the program welcomed its first graduates. Since then, over 700 students have graduated from the program completing over 200 community projects.
After receiving the history of the program, Cirello explained the curriculum the students will experience over the next year. According to Cirello, members of KYLA are invited to attend several guest speaker sessions that include speakers from the city, county and state government, agribusiness, orthopedic industry, law enforcement and Judicial system and more. In addition to the speakers, students are able to take tours of various local industry leaders such as DePuy Synthes, LSC Communications and the Kosciusko County Courthouse.
In addition to the formal training and classes each student attends, KYLA members are also asked to donate a total of ten hours toward a community service project of their choosing. This project is called “Project Proud.” Students are asked to develop their projects either alone or in groups and present their projects to their peers, board members and area dignitaries and guests at the close of the academic year.
The meeting concluded with several “icebreaker” games which allowed students the opportunity to get to know each other. The new KYLA members enjoyed learning about their peers as well as sharing information about themselves and their goals for the future.
For more information on KYLA or to learn how to get involved, visit the KYLA website at http://www.kosciuskoyouthleadership.org/ or on Facebook at @kosciuskoyouthleadership.