Junior Leadership Kershaw County kicked off its 28th year, Aug. 28-29, with a two-day retreat for the 2015-16 class that included conquering a high ropes course.
Thirty-two juniors and seniors representing Camden, Lugoff-Elgin and North Central high schools as well as the Camden Military Academy participated in a variety of team-building and leadership development activities.
Junior Leadership Kershaw County is a partnership of the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, the Kershaw County School District and Camden Military Academy. Beneficiary support is provided by the Camden Kiwanis Club. The program began in 1988 and is one of the oldest continuously running high school leadership programs in the state. Since it began more than 800 students have completed the program.
This year’s class includes two sets of twins as well a son and daughter of Junior Leadership alumni.
“Junior Leadership is one of the most popular programs we sponsor,” says Liz Horton, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. “It is a unique venture and has really resonated with our schools, their students and the business community.
“Over the years it has been very successful developing student leaders and future leaders in our community. Some of the graduates have gone on to become doctors, attorneys, teachers, a state representative and even a pro football player.”
During the year students will meet in monthly sessions to learn more about leadership, career opportunities, state government and cultural diversity. They will also participate in a community service project.
The two-day opening retreat is the foundation of the program where students learn about team-work and overcoming obstacles. On Aug. 28 students participated in a group dynamics session led by Jen Hunsicker of Columbia College’s Leadership Institute. They also heard from Lisa Brownlee, a leadership consultant from Irmo, who led the students in exercises about leadership values.
Students were challenged to practice their leadership skills on Aug. 29 during their day-long participation on a low and high ropes course at the Gravatt Camp and Conference Center near Aiken. Tackling the ropes course obstacles puts the students to the test both as individuals and as a team,” says Laurie Parks, who chairs the Junior Leadership steering committee. “It is a long, grueling day, but in the end it is worth their sweat and toil. They enjoy it immensely.”
The year ends in April with a graduation dinner and presentation of the Robert. J. Sheheen Outstanding Junior Leadership Student of the Year award.
Students apply for Junior Leadership in the spring of the school year and are chosen by their schools as representatives in the program.
This year’s class includes:
Camden High: Josiah Altieri, Gray Batten, Elizabeth Brown, Trace Guy, Abby McLaughlin, Delaney McLaughlin, Morgan Schoolfield, Shania Steele and Carlos Williams
Camden Military Academy: Thomas Azrelyant, Brent Buckley, Jake Dean, Austin Martin, Alex Ranft and Jack Thurman
Lugoff-Elgin High School: Braxton Byrd, Heath Byrd, Elliott Campbell, Chloe’ Horton, Sarah Placke, Emma Russell, Jasmine Sexton, Taylor Sinay, Rose Werdon and Thai Wood
North Central High School: Sierra Barnes, Anne-Marie Branham, Cedrick Cunningham, Abigail DuRant, Deja Linton, Olivia Loynes and Josh Smith