By Ryan McLaughlin
Four local high school students attended a week of training at Westminster College through the Rotary Youth Leadership Award June 8-13.
Ashton Callipare from Ford City High School, and Morgan McCaslin, Lizzy Cornish, and Austin Porter from West Shamokin High School were selected, along with 124 other students from Pennsylvania, to attend the training event.
The event was designed to help train these students on better leadership abilities, as well as reinforce their naturally existing leadership talents.
Kittanning Rotary Club RYLA Chairperson Kristin Robertucci helped explain why these particular students were selected from the Armstrong School District.
“These students are all high achievers,” she said. “Very high grade point averages or are very involved in different leadership groups within the school, like KEY club, LEO club, or class president, Robertucci said. “They all displayed certain leadership qualities that I thought they would benefit from more intense type leadership training.”
She sent out flyers to all the guidance counselors, to pick three or four students with these leadership abilities. Students had to be in their junior year, and they had to have leadership qualities. From those candidates, Robertucci then picked the ones that she thought would be best.
While at the event, the students stayed in the campus dorm rooms in Shaw Hall. This helped the students mingle together, since they were living together for the duration of the conference.
The main feature of the conference were the different meetings and presentations about bettering one’s self, as well as the discussion groups. Callipare went in-depth about the activities at the conference.
“We just talked to people and went into a deeper level with them,” she said. “We learned that there’s so much more to people than meets the eye.”
Callipare said that she met many good people and had fun with the other students from across the state. She also explained that students took part in a movie night, a karaoke night, and even a concert to help bring everyone together to have a good time. They helped to break the ice between all of the students and let them have fun together.
“It was life-changing – I loved it,” Callipare said.
After the event, Callipare and the others from West Shamokin were invited to meet with the Kittanning Rotary Club to discuss the week. This gave the students the chance to explain the event from their perspective, so the rotary could know that the event was a worthwhile experience.
Callipare said she was happy to see McCasliln and Cornish again. Porter was unable to attend.
“The rotary was really open to listening to what you wanted to say,” Callipare said. “They wanted to know what it was like from our perspective and be reassured giving us the scholarship to go there was the right decision, and if they should continue to do that.”
Callipare said the conference did indeed help enhance leadership skills.